Some people are warm and welcoming the second that you meet them, and Sean Collins is one of those people. When we met, I could tell he was excited and had a lot to say. As we began to talk, Sean revealed that he had struggled with alcoholism over the course of his life. Rather than being stigmatized in his community, addiction actually was pretty widely accepted, even ignored. People doubted his ability to quit. He did quit, however, and now, his experiences have given him the compassion to help others through their addiction journeys here at Gordon.
“This semester, I had a lot more free time than most seniors. I was talking to Bill and he goes, ‘you have a story and…an interesting background. You have to leave something behind.” As he was thinking of what he could give back to the school, Sean realized that he had revealed his struggles with addiction during his time on campus, but had never heard of a support group for people like him. In addition, being a small, closely knit, conservative Christian college, unique challenges are presented in regards to this topic.
“A lot of people don’t like to talk about their recovery […] because there’s a lot of shame in it,” says Sean Collins. Christian communities are too often guilty of contributing to the problem of stigmatizing or even ignoring such problems. In turn, fear of judgement in Christian and conservative circles can cause hurting victims to stay quiet, and vital topics like addiction remain unaddressed in the very places which boast of indefatigable love and acceptance.
Sean recognized that gap in campus resources and decided to do something about it. A short while later, Gordon’s addiction Support group came into existence. The group aims to give victims of addiction of all kinds a space for empathy, encouragement, healing and hope, and actively combatting the stigmas that Christian environments tend to place on problems like addiction.“I want to get people who are in that sheltered bubble or just don’t have the confidence […] to say ‘I need help,” shares Collins.
In Collins’ support group, the problem of addiction is acknowledged and addressed in a private, productive and compassionate manner. The group will be using the book of Romans as a guide. Collins, who is familiar with the struggles of addiction himself, chose this particular book, as it has been of deep comfort and consolation to him in the past. Unlike many support groups which are not religiously affiliated, Collins’ group is unique in its approach. By using the intersection of faith and community to combat temptation, it gives a deeper meaning to healing and renewal. Although the group is in its beginning stages, Collins hopes it will grow to a point where members can share in a time of collective worship specially centered on the topic of reliance on Christ for help. “We’re a close Christian community here, we should be able to help ourselves,” says Collins, “no matter how put together or broken we may be,” reminds Collins.