A loss unwarranted

My cousin was killed two weeks ago when he overdosed on a recreational drug.

Writing this is difficult because of my inability to focus right now. I likely would not be writing were it not for my inability to sleep either. Although I am not a morning person, I lately have looked forward to waking up simply to escape my mind’s nagging and restlessness.

My cousin was killed two weeks ago when he overdosed on a recreational drug. The night’s darkness has forced me to dwell on a 16-year-old dying alone in his room, and I have thought much about the obvious question of why this had to happen. Christopher was an easygoing boy and not predisposed to depression. He generally got along with his brothers and parents as well. The more I have thought about it, I have begun to believe he died simply because of the cavalier attitude he possessed toward an addiction that ultimately betrayed mere enthusiasm.

As a community adviser, I witness a lot of the same attitude with respect to other things like alcohol and pot. At the beginning of the year, I see people start off well, build a social circle and enjoy themselves. As the year wears on, however, I often see the same people regress into a shell of who they were. More than seeing their grades suffer (which they often do), I witness a destruction of what made them who they were. I gradually see less and less of them in their sober state, as they forget about the dreams they had but have now given up on. Gradually, I lose the ability to connect with them as I am left with little to talk about – the relationship becoming nothing more than a hello and goodbye.

I really do not want to appear prudish or naïve with regards to alcohol on campus. Drinking can be fun, and I like going to the bars as much as the next person, but then again, drinking is not the default activity for me when I’m bored. I also think I appreciate how alcohol can change a person’s life even before it becomes an addiction. In any case, I wish people might be conscious of how addiction – to anything – can originate in the most innocuous of circumstances, but then consume what was once a life full of potential.

I cling to the belief that no matter the background of a person, they possess the ability to rise above the gloom that dependency casts on them. If you have a friend who seems to hit the bottle a bit too frequently, talk to them. If it is a matter of the social pressure to partake, hey, I didn’t drink until I was 21, simply because people expected the opposite.

With Christopher’s death, I suppose I have thought about alcohol and its effects on people because examples of its risks abound all over the place. I could talk of addiction and how it makes people I know – and knew – hollow remnants of the past. I could talk about the abuse that has happened as a result of alcohol in the homes of friends of mine. I could talk about the slow, almost imperceptible erosion of goals due to the increasing importance of alcohol in the lives of people I know. I could talk about the real reason CAs write people up for alcohol – and it is not from a desire to do more paperwork or to be a “policeman.”

Meanwhile, I am left with memories incapable of filling Christopher’s presence in my life.

Paul Nelson is a community adviser for Sanford Hall. Please send comments to [email protected]