A Bwog staff writer discusses her experience attending an initial (and then a follow-up) Alcohol Substance Awareness Program meeting.

The Alcohol Substance Awareness Program at Barnard provides a variety of services to a range of students with questions, concerns, or those seeking help in regards to drug and alcohol use. They are not a disciplinary office, and all of their services are confidential. To find out more about ASAP and the services they offer, visit their website here. Attending an ASAP meeting is also a requirement for students involved in reported incidents involving drugs or alcohol. It was this reason that brought me to my first ASAP meeting. Was alcohol involved in my weekend? Potentially. Did I make a series of poor choices regarding my (maybe) consumption of alcohol? Also possible. The exact circumstances of the necessity of my meeting will remain unknown to all (myself included). 

Friends of mine had previously attended ASAP meetings but their accounts did little to demystify the experience for me. Would it be like a gory scene (actually any scene) from Game of Thrones: either everyone dies or at least ends up severely traumatized? Honestly, maybe. I truly was not having a great time the week leading up to my meeting. I began listening somewhat exclusively to Rehab by Amy Winehouse.  

When I walked in for my meeting (100 Hewitt Hall, the first floor in the Furman Counseling Center), they had me fill out paperwork with the expected questions (name, address, family information, etc.). I was also asked, however, to fill out a form that asked me questions about anxiety levels, relationships, and general mental health. This raised my fear. I was there in regards to alcohol consumption, but would we also be unearthing early childhood trauma? Would I need to bring up my traumatic 7th-grade move from one house to another in the same ZIP code? I was thinking deeply about my pet fish, Whiskers, who had died seven years earlier when I was summoned into a room with a counselor. 

The meeting itself was very relaxed, despite me being anything but calm. My counselor was deeply understanding and assured me that everything was confidential and non-disciplinary. The questions started off relating to alcohol and substances, but the conversation transitioned to a broader therapy session (as I believe is typical). My approach to the meeting was, however, flawed. After each question, I would pause and think for a while about an answer that was both unproblematic but not entirely a lie. I searched for answers that I thought my counselor would want to hear. Despite the fact that I fancied myself an actress in elementary and high school, my counselor noticed that I was struggling to be completely open. By the end of the hour, she requested that we meet again. Had I managed to get a therapist from my ASAP meeting? 

ASAP meetings truly don’t draw any parallels to Game of Thrones. Was it an hour of my time? Yes. Was I scared? Yeah. But was it a relaxed and comfortable environment deeply unlike the land of Westeros? Very much so. ASAP was truly a good experience. In fact, if I can offer one piece of advice, talk honestly or else you might end up with another appointment (like me). 

ASAP also has FaceBook and Instagram, and the Rosemary Furman Counseling Center website is here.

Image via Bwog archives