By Rinjisha Roy
I am back with a final story for you on IU Theatre’s current production, Prospect Hill, which has its final performances this weekend.
Set in modern-day Bloomington in Prospect Hill neighbourhood, the play is a distinct, slice of life story revolving around three characters- Jacob, Rex and Ethan, each of whom is in pursuit of something better than what he currently has in life. Jacob, a therapist, is a graduate with two Masters degrees who seeks fulfilment both professionally and in his relationship with husband Rex. Rex, on the other hand, recently retired from pharma sales and looking for a new mission, seeks to help Ethan find a career for himself. Ethan, a young man in his 20s, is a to-be father who wants to leave behind his bitter past and create a better future for himself and his family.
While watching rehearsals for the show, I was intrigued by the role played by an external element in influencing all three characters. I realized that alcohol and drugs are used and misused by all three characters. Each individual is a seeker of fulfillment and happiness, and such substances bring them a sense of relief they seek, albeit for a short period of time only. For instance, Ethan, who has a history of using stimulants, decides to give up his addictions when he chooses to take responsibility of his pregnant girlfriend. Jacob, on the other hand, turns to substances when he is unable to find meaning in his lifelong devotion to Christ and academic accomplishments while Rex, who tries to be sober most of the time, occasionally ends up drinking out of a hidden frustration with retired life.
My interest in the use of this element in the play led me to speak with Jackie Daniels, the Director of OASIS, the campus hub for alcohol and drug harm reduction, intervention and recovery support. Jackie shared details on drug and alcohol use on campus, some of which I as a graduate student was really surprised to hear! According to data, only 40% of all first-years at IU have not had any prior exposure to substances. Of those who have had exposure, the most commonly misused stimulants happen to be alcohol (often vodka), marijuana and a variety of prescription drugs. As of today, there are around 600+ students living in recovery on campus.
When asked about the impact, Jackie says that students taking substances are unable to realize the immediate effect these have on one’s personal life and academic performance; such realizations occur only after drug use has happened for a prolonged time period, leading students to ultimately seek rehabilitation and recovery support.
Speaking with Jackie, I also came to learn that the use of stimulants on campus varies among different age groups and Jackie highlighted a trend among undergraduate class years. Usually, a transition from freshman to sophomore year involves some students shifting to off-campus locations where there are fewer restrictions to guide behaviour. As a result, experimentation with substance use rises greatly by sophomore year. However, with junior year, concerns about professional/ career-related matters discourage students from using drugs and alcohol, transitioning their focus to improving academic performance instead. Such personal realization indicates an immense developmental shift among students, believes Jackie, leading to maturity and accepting leadership of other important matters.
My first-time visit to OASIS completely changed my perspective on how I used to see our campus. Knowing that substance misuse is widespread here tells me that no one is excluded – this is something that can happen to any of us.
If you know someone who is looking for aid with substance-related issues, or wants to know more on this subject, or even is thinking about trying something for the first time but is unsure of the consequences, don’t hesitate to reach out to the OASIS office, located on the 7th floor of Eigenmann Hall, near the eastern edge of IU Bloomington campus. They have many resources available to assist students, including the Journey Program, an intervention program where you get an assessment to determine the type of care you need, presentations and workshops that are provided on campus by request and also campus outreach and consultation available for any student organization interested in OASIS services. Additionally, a student-led organization is Students in Recovery-Bloomington that provides social support and fun without substances for anyone interested. Below is a link and contact information for the OASIS website:
OASIS Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; Call: (812) 856-3898
OASIS Campus Initiatives: https://studentaffairs.indiana.edu/oasis/initiatives.shtml
Prevention Resources: https://studentaffairs.indiana.edu/oasis/resources.shtml
OASIS also invites you to take part in a focus group during Culture of Care Week on Monday, April 3rd, 2017, at 7:30pm in the IMU Maple Room. Your comments during the focus group will be 100% anonymous and WILL NOT be used against you in any way.
The focus group is about Xanax and cocaine use and should last about an hour and a half.
Rinjisha Roy is graduate student in the Arts Administration program at SPEA and a graduate assistant for IU Theatre’s marketing department. She is from Calcutta, India and was a literature major as an undergraduate at St. Xaviers College in Calcutta. Her interests include writing, poetry, Shakespearean theatre and classical music. This is her second semester at IU and she is very excited to be a part of the IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.