July 21, 2019

Student starts drug and alcohol support group

Sophomore Eby Strauss-Barrett started an on-campus recovery group for students struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. 

After four years of sobriety, Strauss-Barrett said the lack of a recovery group on campus surprised her.

“I struggled with addiction and I think a lot of other people here are struggling with addiction,” Strauss-Barrett said.  “I wanted to give them somewhere to go and be able to talk about it.”

The group talks about how to cope with addiction, ways to stop abusing drugs and alcohol and prevent relapse.

Strauss-Barrett said she often sees Webster students have problems with smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.  The group welcomes those struggling with any sort of addiction, however.

“If you have an addictive personality, you can totally take it out of hand whatever it is,” Strauss-Barrett said.  “Even if it’s not drugs or alcohol.”

Senior Arthur Leuking Jr. said he struggled with addiction to heroin, cocaine and prescription pills.  He said more students struggle with addiction than most people think.

Strauss-Barrett said she thinks students are afraid to open up on campus about addiction.  But she said she will be ready to help when they want to talk.

Leuking stopped using one year ago and plans to graduate in May 2020.  He said the recovery group has allowed him to vent about the struggles he faced after stopping drug use.

“When you stop, your whole life has to be restructured,” Leuking said

Leuking said it was easy for him to hide his addiction from his family because he managed to earn great grades and start a business at age 20.  He said he considered himself a high-functioning addict.

According to Leuking, support groups help keep him grounded.  The variety of perspectives helps very different people to work toward a common goal.

“Everybody struggles with it differently,” Leuking said.

Leuking said he attends several different recovery groups.  However, the Webster group is the first student-led group he attended.

Strauss-Barrett leads the group.  No faculty or staff attend the meetings.  Strauss-Barrett said keeping the space private to students allows them to open up more.

Leuking said he appreciates the privacy.

“It’s definitely a different dynamic,” Leuking said.

The group only has one rule for students: no “war stories,” or stories that glorify an event when an addict used drugs or alcohol.

“We don’t want to glorify addiction,” Strauss-Barrett said.

This is the second recovery group Strauss-Barrett started.  She started her first in high school.

This semester, the group met on Fridays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Strauss-Barrett will hold two more Friday meetings before summer break in Emerson Library room 302.  She encourages any students struggling with addiction to go.

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