135 Addiction: Hidden Behind Ideology
A few weeks ago, a classmate of mine in my Human Communication and Conflict class came up to me after class and asked if he could talk to me. I knew that he recognized me, but he had never seen me in street clothes; he was used to looking up off the rink and seeing me in my suit, with a headset on above the penalty box. Teddy was in his first season as a Plymouth State hockey player, and he would see me commentating every home game. His face lit up when he made the connection, and had the confidence to ask me for a favor.
Teddy McCarran spent two years with the Islanders Prep Hockey Club as a forward after high school, before spending a year at Merrimack College. He transferred to Plymouth after a hockey-related injury. He stands at 6’3”, and was looking down at me when he spoke.
“You’re The Clock guy, right?” he said. I nodded. “Well, I need your help.”
And he opened up. He had never met me before, but he had asked for my help with a new club he was starting. I stared at him in amazement, as the words that left his mouth seemed to fall out. He had a stutter in class, and was sometimes afraid to talk, but when he was talking to me, he seemed to have so much confidence.
At Merrimack College, Teddy was one of the top forwards on the team, representing an extremely well-known Division I program. Halfway through his first season, he was boarded awkwardly into the glass and cracked several ribs. Teddy got hooked on painkillers, and it completely changed his life. Following his injury, he had to take time away from hockey, and thought he would never play again. He transferred to Plymouth after getting a call from Coach Craig Russel, and since then has cleaned up. He’s been sober for 15 months; his addiction is all but cured.
As he told me all of this, he asked me if The Clock could spread the word about his new organization, which aims to help students with addiction on campus. As I extended my hand, Teddy smiled and realized that we would do anything to help him out. He held his first meeting two weeks ago, and fellow writer and classmate Lindsey DeRoche covered the event (which EVERYONE should read here). As I attended the last meeting, Teddy told me how important it is that students actually come forth and admit that they have a problem. He said that his biggest issue was coming to terms with the fact that he had a problem, and that it doesn’t just apply to his situation, but to any substance addiction. His goal right now is to talk to every freshman class at the start of the 2017 academic year.
This really hit me, because you don’t think about the fact that college kids can actually have addiction problems. This can directly relate to the ideology that we college students relate ourselves with. What we might see of ourselves might also reflect an addiction that we may be conjuring up without even recognizing it. “Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Althusser 693). Seeing that Busch Light made new cans that are only available when you buy it by the case might prompt a college student to go buy that case, even if drinking 15 beers a night can set someone up for developing an addiction (why would it prompt a college student to do so? So they have a can nobody else does at a party, I imagine).
People our age also have a hard time admitting that they have a problem as well, which is another example of how that can reflect Teddy’s point of why we need a group like this. Commercials are a great way of bringing home Althusser’s point that “ideology interpellates individuals as subjects” (697). The old real man of genius commercials from Bud Light are great examples of this, in that they say “hey you, man, drink a Bud Light.” The cheap, ideal college student beer that has that ‘real man’ feel to it might be all it takes to create an addiction that Teddy is trying to stop.
As I sat in and talked with Teddy, one of the most important things he said was that you don’t know when you have an addiction. He told me that he didn’t see his; he was a DI athlete, with a pretty girlfriend and a great family. That was the ideology that he gave himself, the persona that he related with. In actuality, he was addicted to pain killers and was going down a very dark path. His meetings opened up my eyes, and it showed me that what we portray ourselves to be as college students can also set us up for addiction, but how we think we’re supposed to act is a direct relation to this.