By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 17, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Addiction is something that can be difficult for many to understand, and Fort Rucker is doing what it can to educate people to aid in the fight against it.
Fort Rucker's Army Substance Abuse Program teamed with Theater of War Productions to bring the Addiction Performance Project to the installation at the post theater May 10 as a way to help people understand the dangers of addiction, as well as give people a glimpse into what addiction looks like from the outside, as well as the inside, said Bryan Doerries, artistic director for the performance.
The way ASAP is looking to get this message across is through performance -- specifically an excerpt from Eugene O'Neill's award-winning play, "Long Day's Journey into Night," which depicts the struggles of Mary Tyrone, a woman who abuses prescription painkillers and relapses into full-blown morphine addiction. It is also the story of how her addiction tore her family apart, as her morphine use slowly becomes apparent to her husband and children.
"This is a live, theatrical performance meant to be a catalyst for conversation," said Doerries. "In some ways, we've all been touched by this issue. We're here to perform it to elicit personal responses and engage in honest, open, candid dialogue -- take a conversation that may not have been possible in 1941 and take it out of the shadows and into the sanctuary. That's what we're here to do."
The excerpt also hits on the effects of alcoholism, as it depicts the husband's and son's struggle with the disease, as well.
Immediately following the performance, a panel of volunteers discussed how addiction affected them and their family, and how the play was able to resonate with them.
For a sergeant first class on the panel, his journey to recovery began after the culmination of 10 years of drinking when he woke after a night of heavy drinking to find himself surrounded by paramedics and military police officers.
"I came to the full understanding of the drunken stupor when my wife and sergeant major were standing there trying to ask me why I had a gun to my head," he said, adding that following the events of that day, he immediately sought help at Lyster Army Health Clinic and was off to a 28-day program the same day.
"Jan. 16 was the last time I took a drink," he said. "Today marks days of sobriety for me and I'm happy to be here."
A captain also shared the story of his battle with alcohol abuse and how it took a night in jail to turn his life around.
"I ended up in jail just 10 days after getting (to Fort Rucker) for (driving under the influence) on my motorcycle going 100 miles per hour," he said. "I thought my career was over. I haven't driven on post for almost one year now, and I've spent a lot of money on court fees and lawyers, but it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me because I got the help that I needed that I would have never asked for."
While he was going through his recovery process, he had gotten word that his best friend had passed away from a heroin overdose, which was another wake-up call for him and resonating factor of the performance.
That's the type of response the performance is meant to elicit, said Doerries, in order to bring about a conversation and get people talking about the subject.
For Jim Jones, Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care counselor, the performance does just that and shows that the issue of addiction is one that transcends time.
"This was set in 1912, and 106 years later it's not that much different," said Jones. "One of the bad things with addiction is people tend to live in the past, and not live in today or look toward the future."
"In spite of the distance of time and culture, I ask you to look and see what did you recognize in the story and in the performance that spoke to you as truthful and resonated with you across time," said Doerries. "What do you see of yourself, of your community, of your lives reflected in this very human story," he asked, adding that it's that self-reflection that allows people to talk about the issues to help fight addiction.