IUP received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs for its Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs program and a new campaign.
The grant is part of the $56 million budget dedicated to aiding 13 Pennsylvania schools, three of them being state schools like IUP, to battle drug use and create nalaxone, or NARCAN, training programs.
The IUP Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs program (ATOD) will split the grant into two major programs.
Headed by Ann Sesti, ATOD director, the first program will be “an educational and supportive outreach campaign to prevent opioid abuse and provide support to students whose lives may have been touched by friends or family members struggling with opioid addiction.”
“We will be offering a four-part speaker series on understanding addiction,” Sesti said.
The series will consist of “Understanding Addiction” with IUP psychology professor Dr. Bill Meil, “The Human Impact of Addiction” and a panel of several speakers sharing personal experiences. Another program is “The Emerging Science of Addiction Treatment” with Antoine Douaihy, an associate professor of psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of Addiction Medicine Services Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Finally, there will be “Hope for the Future” with both Dr. Erick Lauber, director of community health and leadership at the MARTI institute and a certified recovery specialist.
Lauber will be co-directing the other largest campaign supported by the grant, along with Sesti: the “Protect the Brain” campaign.
The Protect the Brain program is “a new prevention and education campaign targeting the IUP community,” Lauber said.
“It will educate both faculty/staff and students on what addiction is, how it develops and what can be done about it.”
It will also educate students and staff on the different chemicals that enter the body whenever someone gets drunk or high and the brain and body’s reaction to those chemicals, Lauber said.
“Every one of these chemicals can also influence both short-term and long-term brain function.”
The campaign is expected to begin at the same time the spring semester begins and immediately get to work on outreach and education.
“Our objectives are to reach every student and to have everyone on campus more educated, more committed to avoiding many of these substances and more aware of how to help,” Lauber said.
Along with the speaker series and Protect the Brain, ATOD is hosting several other events and campaigns throughout the semester.
“Health and Wellness Promotion peer educators will be hosting campus presentations and information tables on preventing opioid abuse,” Sesti said.
Throughout February, peer support groups for those affected by addiction in a loved one’s life will be hosted by certified family recovery specialists in Suites on Maple East. Throughout both February and March, tobacco cessation, or quitting, meetings will be held in Suites on Maple East.
In both February and March, training in the use of NARCAN, a nasal spray used in emergencies for treating someone who’s overdosing, in the Humanities and Social Sciences building.
Every Sunday in Suites on Maple East, all semester long, students can attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings.