Combating Addiction Through Strategies and Educational Programs at YSU

By Rachel Gobep

Youngstown State University and the Andrew’s Student Recreation & Wellness Center have collaborated to create a Drug & Alcohol Prevention Program on campus.

The program strives to create a safe, healthy and learning-conducive environment, and emphasizes the elimination of harmful use, high-risk behavior and related violence, according to the YSU 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

“YSU students and employees with substance abuse issues create a health and safety risk for themselves and for others,” the report wrote. “Such abuses can also result in a wide range of serious emotional and behavioral problems.”

The university is in compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, and has a range of programs and options designed to discourage the use of illegal substances and educate students on the topic through group and individual counseling services that are confidential, according to Ryan McNicholas, the coordinator of the Alcohol and Drug Compliance Report for YSU and the assistant director for marketing, fitness and wellness programs.

“A student’s decision to seek assistance will not be used in connection with any academic determination or as a basis for disciplinary action,” according to the report.

These programs include YSU for Recovery, THP Project Purple Initiative 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, Sober Thoughts Program, Wellfest and a prescription drug drop-off at the university.

YSU for Recovery, which stemmed from alcohol addiction but focuses on addiction and recovery, has weekly meetings in Kilcawley Center that are open to the entire YSU community and completely anonymous.

“We want to make sure everyone who needs help or wants help can achieve that,” McNicholas, the administrator of the group, said.

He said there has been development with those who attend the meetings.

“Several of our students that have been part of the program have gone on to work with addiction recovery to help out others, so it’s been really successful in our opinion,” he said.

The THP Project Purple Initiative 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is during Men’s Health Week and helps to raise awareness for THP Project Purple, an organization that was created to raise awareness, support patients and provide information on how students can aid those that may abuse substances.

Through the Sober Thoughts Program, a week-long program is hosted by the campus recreation center and Housing and Residence Life at YSU to focus on positive life choices.

Wellfest is a health fair event that gives the campus community knowledge tips and handouts regarding health information.

Finally, the prescription drug drop-off box is located in the YSU Police Department at Cilingan-Waddell Hall, where old and outdated prescriptions can be disposed of.

“[These resources] are easily accessible. There are people here to help … People at YSU want to see YSU students, faculty and staff achieve their goals,” McNicholas said.

He said there is always more that can be done to combat the opioid epidemic.

“It’s like fighting an uphill battle … but I think we are taking sufficient steps to getting to that point,” he said.

For more information about these and other drug and alcohol education programs, contact McNicholas at (330) 941-2207.