The sober truth

Julie Torres

“It was an efficient escape from reality.”

That’s how sophomore David Ethier sums up the reasoning behind his choice to start abusing drugs and alcohol at the age of 14.

By his junior year in high school, Ethier had been expelled from two schools because of drugs. “I went through high school not wanting to get high, but having to get high,” Ethier says. He never expected to graduate. Instead, Ethier confided, he was sure his lifestyle would cost him his life.

Ethier did graduate, but he could not stop using drugs and alcohol. A month before he was scheduled to attend Villanova, Ethier was pulled over by police. They found him in possession of drugs. Ethier was arrested and faced the task of admitting to his parents that he had not remained sober since his last expulsion from school nearly two years earlier.

After this incident, Ethier decided to seek help. But he did not know where to begin. “I didn’t know what rehab was,” Ethier says. “I didn’t know a thing about recovery.” Ethier went to rehab but knew that it was not enough to keep him sober. So he joined a 12-step program.

Ethier has now been sober for two years.

He credits his recovery process with fostering the most important thing in his life – his spirituality. “I came to believe in a power greater than myself,” Ethier says. “I understand. I don’t fear. I am fine on my own.”

Ethier admits that he has felt uncomfortable at times. “I have encountered ignorance,” Ethier said. “People have asked, ‘So you don’t drink? You’re never gonna drink? You go to meetings? Who makes you go? You don’t get high, ever?'”

But Ethier is adamant about his commitment to sobriety. “I’m not gonna sell out just because I am at Villanova. College is supposed to be fun no matter what you do.”

“I do not hate drinking as an institution or those who choose to drink,” Ethier adds. “This is my responsibility – not anyone else’s.”

He does not claim to have all the answers, but Ethier does offer one bit of advice to those who know someone who might have a problem. “If someone is not willing to get better, then little you say will help them,” Ethier says. “They have to be willing to get help.”

If a person does willingly want to get sober, there are channels on campus which can provide information and assistance on the road to recovery. Margaret Matt, assistant dean of alcohol and drug intervention, suggested utilizing the Center for Health and Wellness Education, which is located on the first floor of the Health Services Building. Counseling is available for students who want to address issues related to drugs and alcohol. There is also a weekly AA meeting on campus every Thursday at 8:30 p.m., in room 200 of the Health Services Building.

In addition, an on-campus group called the Thundercats organizes activities for students who wish to remain sober. “There are a lot more people than one would expect with this challenge in their lives,” Matt said.

Catherine Lovecchio, director of the Center for Health and Wellness Education, insists that the number of abstainers on campus has actually increased over the years. She also reports seeing downward shift in the number of heavy drinkers.

Lovecchio credits this trend, in part, to the introduction of Alcohol Edu. “Do we still have a problem?” Lovecchio said, “Absolutely. But there is a definite shift in the thought process.