Student addiction program brings hope for living a clean, sober life

Matt Glover

YSU student Matt Glover has helped create an addiction recovery program for YSU students. He is pictured in Kilcawley Center, where the group holds its weekly meetings.

When it comes to overcoming addictions, Matt Glover knows of which he speaks.

“I am always looking for ways to share my experience, strength and hope with others who are suffering from alcoholism or any other form of addiction, and to let them know that there is hope of living a clean and sober life,” said Glover. “I have found that through helping others, I am also helping myself stay sober.”

Glover, a YSU student majoring in Social Work, is taking that philosophy to heart as the driving force and facilitator of a new 12-Step-based addiction recovery program exclusively for YSU students.

Joy Polkabla Byers, director of Campus Recreation, said she approached Glover last fall about starting the program. “We have 14,000 students, and we didn’t have anything in the form of recovery located here on campus,” Glover said. “I thought it was something very important that should be established.”

The program, which outlines a course of action toward recovery from addiction, is the first such program on campus in at least a decade, Byers said. The weekly meetings in Kilcawley Center, open to students only, have been attracting up to 15 students.

In the meetings, the group acts as a peer support group to share and support each other in the path to wellness. “If someone’s having a bad day or a bad week or just wants to get something off their chest, we just roll with that,” said Glover. “We let them know what they’re going through, we’ve been through. A lot of people come out with hope. The first meeting is scariest, but our door is very open, we encourage people to come, ask questions and listen, and anybody in the room will go out of their way to help.”

Byers said it was important to students that the meetings not include anyone other than students.  “They wanted a place that they could speak freely,” she said.  “One of the things that we are looking at is wellness, and that’s why Campus Recreation is involved. We’re looking at the overall wellness of the student population. This is one area we identified.”

Glover said he was lucky, in the midst of his alcohol addiction, to have friends who were already in recovery. “To make a long story short, I picked up the phone, called a friend, went to my first meeting, and from there it’s been nothing short of miracles that have happened for me,” he said. “Soon after I entered recovery, I enrolled here at YSU.”

Admitting that there is a problem can be the hardest step, especially for younger people. “I think there is a stigma attached, especially at the college age,” said Glover. “I think addiction is sometimes viewed by younger people as a weakness, rather than a disease. Some people won’t admit to having this ‘weakness.’”

Meetings are Thursdays at 4 p.m. in Bresnahan Room 3 in Kilcawley Center.

Story by Harry Evans