Two students are taking steps to open up the dialogue about alcohol and drug addiction at Messiah. Senior Spanish and criminal justice double major Adam Strause and senior sport management major Zach Luman are starting a support group for students who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction and/or have family members that do.
The idea for the group started when Strause was talking to an R.D. about his experience coming from a family that struggles with alcoholism.
“I come from a background of alcoholism. My dad abused me when I was younger. He [the RD] said that my story is pretty common here, but a lot of people just don’t know that it exists here at Messiah. They think that everyone comes from the same Christian, good background, and that’s not always the case,” Strause said.
After his conversation with the RD, Strause met with Marcelle Giovannetti, a certified alcohol & drug counselor at the Engle Center, and she shared that she wanted to start a support group, but she needed a student that would be willing to lead it. Strause then enlisted the help of Zach Luman since the two of them have been close friends since their freshman year.
“It was Adam’s idea, his plan and he needed someone to help him. Since we’ve been through things together I thought it’d be great to help him,” Luman said.
The group, called Family Ties, will be co-led by Strause and Luman. The duo is planning to make the first meeting an informal, “get to know each other” session. They also plan to discuss the confidentiality of the group, since the information shared will likely be quite personal.
“We want students to know that it’s a safe place and nothing that’s said to us or at the group will leave that area. It’s important that people know that there won’t be any faculty or staff at the meetings,” said Luman.
Strause hopes that Family Ties will show students that they are not alone in struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, and there are other people that understand. However, the discussion will not be faith-based.
“We do not have plans to integrate faith at the moment. We don’t want to push people away by pushing faith. If people ask how their faith incorporates, then there are Bible passages that we have to work off of,” Strause said.
Additionally, Luman wants students to be able to experience the same kind of breakthrough that he experienced: “I really struggled with addiction my first two years at Messiah. Last year, in my third year, I really saw breakthrough in that. I want to see breakthrough and see people be free of shame or guilt or anything that they’re going through,” said Luman.
While faith will not be the focus of Family Ties, Luman wants to help group members with their spiritual walk if that is something they desire.
“Even if it’s not as a group, if it’s just an individual that wants to talk about faith, I want to pray for them and help them in their faith journey,” said Luman.
Strause and Luman are planning to have the first Family Ties meeting on Wednesday, October 26 from 7-8 p.m. at The LOFT. For more information, or if you or a friend are interested in this new group, please email Adam Strause at firstname.lastname@example.org or Zach Luman at email@example.com.