Emerson sponsors Alcoholics Anonymous

by Beacon Staff • November 19, 2008

Emerson's Center for Health and Wellness is sponsoring Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on campus, responding to a student's initiative to offer the outlet to sufferers of alcoholism.

A student-led action to offer an outlet to those prone to the accessible excesses of collegiate life, the program was founded by Brady Frome, a sophomore Theatre Education major who came to Emerson freshly out of rehabilitation, and immediately began looking for support groups for students in recovery.

"Unfortunately, there weren't too many options," Frome said in an interview. "I started a meeting with the hopes that students who believed that they have alcohol or drug dependency, or were curious about what that meant, could come and meet other students who were going through the exact same thing."

The program is not directly affiliated with the college, but Frome said he cooperates with the Health and Wellness Center, which helps organize meetings and has donated materials that AA groups across the country use, including the group's signature 12-step booklets and medallions awarded to members who have remained sober for a certain number of days.

In a survey of some of Boston's major universities' health and wellness centers' Web sites, few of them offered an actual AA program, though Boston University offers BASICS, or Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students.

Frome, who went through rehabilitation and said he has been sober for over two years, wanted to reach out to other students who may be struggling with some of the things he dealt with.

An Emersonian member of AA who wished to remain anonymous agrees. "It's really hard, because, I mean, I'm 18, and no one I know except for Brady is completely sober. But I've managed to find people who respect my sobriety." Student AA members said they find themselves around alcohol often, but try to avoid those situations unless they're "in a good enough place."

AA is student-run and completely voluntary, and its membership fluctuates from week to week. Hinging on the assurance of anonymity, the organization does not keep detailed membership lists, nor does it release any of its members' names to the media, according to its Web site.

The current gathering hovers at around four to five members, with two regulars and one member who is pretty consistent, Frome said.

Emerson's AA chapter is one of 53,665 in the United States, which vary in the way they operate and what they allow from their members.

"The only requirement is to stop drinking," said one anonymous member. "But from there, everything in your life changes. It's just an opportunity to live better."

Emerson's chapter does not require their members to be 100 percent sober, said Engler, though some chapters do, and encourages those who may not identify themselves as alcoholic to check out the program.