Students meet to conquer addiction

For 11 years, Matt Glover was held hostage by his addiction to alcohol. Now, 32 years old and two and a half years sober, he’s helping others fight their own battles.

Glover is a social work student who plans to work as an addiction counselor after he graduates from Youngstown State University.

With the help of Joy Polkabla-Byers, director of campus recreation and student programming, Glover will get an early start on his prospective career by leading the first 12-step meetings on campus in more than a decade.

“It’s my duty to spread the word of recovery,” Glover said. “I thought there was a need to bring students in this circumstance together.”

The meetings, which are anonymous, will be held through the remainder of the semester every Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Kilcawley Center’s Bresnahan Room 3.

“The first couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at responses as far as group size and what times work best for them,” Glover said. “We’re open to having more than one time slot to accommodate their needs as much as we possibly can.”

Glover said the meetings might be important to students who live on campus.

“They may feel they have nowhere else to go, and now we can provide this for them,” Glover said.

Both Polkabla-Byers and Glover said they wanted to bring attention to the misconception that 12-step meetings focus on healing through religious beliefs.

“The 12 steps are just a basis for recovery from addiction that has been used [for decades],” Polkabla-Byers said.

Though part of the 12-step program is spirituality, Glover stressed that it is not required to participate.

“The 12-step method makes you take a look at yourself, your addiction and your surroundings,” Glover said. “Some people think you have to believe in God to recover from addiction, and it’s not like that.”

The meetings have been marketed to Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Austintown and Meridian Community Care in Youngstown. Students who are involved in those rehabilitation facilities may be referred to the on-campus meetings or vice versa.

Alcohol Awareness Week starts Oct. 22. Ryan McNicholas, coordinator of fitness and wellness programs at YSU, said the meetings will be promoted at events throughout the week.