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Drug And Alcohol Abuse Addressed Through Program

Peer Group Focuses On Substance Abuse And Recovery

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

This fall, Boston College’s Office of Health Promotion and the Alcohol and Drug Education (ADE) Program are starting a support group for students on campus who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions. BC, like many other schools nationwide, is looking to create a supportive and welcoming environment for those students who are returning to college campuses after recovery, or are seeking assistance with a problem they are currently facing or are afraid they are developing.

In general, ADE works to help students by preventing, educating, and supporting them through the obstacles that college life presents for substance misuse or abuse. A division of the Office of Student Affairs, ADE works to challenge illegal and unhealthy behaviors and encourage students to make well-informed decisions about alcohol and drugs.

Statistically, it is difficult to determine what percentage of student populations are in recovery for substance abuse, as college campuses are not the most sympathetic environments for these students, and many choose to not come forward. Studies have shown, however, that campuses in the Northeast, campuses with a high percentage of students involved in Greek life, and campuses with successful and notable sports teams are some of the schools with higher rates of drinking issues.

Lindsay Napier, assistant director of the Office of Health Promotion, discussed a trend throughout the country of developing different kinds of programs for students who are recovering from addiction. “A real model is Texas Tech, which has something called a CRC—Collegiate Recovery Committee,” Napier said. “They offer a variety of different programs, some peer counseling, some professional, to offer support to their students.” Napier also noted that campuses getting involved in this movement range in their programs, offering options such as substance-free housing, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and even live-in staff and intensive recovery programs.

Both Napier and the peer advisor assisting with the support groups commented on the most difficult parts of being a recovering student on a college campus.

“There’s a stigma attached to being an alcoholic between the ages of 18-22,” said one of the student advisers, who chose to speak anonymously. “In college, the social life revolves heavily around drinking, and it’s hard to explain why you can’t go out just to have a few beers. It’s an unfortunate way of life that has become acceptable.”
The student support group will kick off with drop-in meetings, to allow students with interest to come into the Alcohol and Drug Education Office and speak with the peer counselors and gather more information. The support group is not limited to students on the BC campus who are already in recovery, but are open to anyone who wants to talk to a familiar face rather than a counselor or a Resident Assistant about the problems they may be experiencing with drugs and alcohol. The appeal of these support groups is that they are peer-facilitated, where students work to provide an outlet for their fellow classmates.

Staff at the Health Center, Counseling Center, RAs, and Undergraduate and Graduate Directors have been notified of the availability of these new support groups, so that they can inform students who they believe might benefit from the support. These notifications, along with flyers posted in residence halls, were used to preserve the privacy of these students who may be wary of being public in their involvement, but are still able to receive the opportunity to attend.

The support groups primarily assist those students who struggle with alcohol and drugs, and help them find comfort and solidarity on college campuses. However, the ADE hopes that their presence on campus will raise awareness of the growing issue of alcoholism and drug abuse on college campuses.

Weekly drop-in meetings for the support groups will take place every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gasson 013.

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