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substance abuse

Southern has been awarded a $10,000 Seeds of Hope grant – an allocation that will enable the university to develop a support program for students already in recovery from substance abuse disorders.

The grant emanates from the non-profit organization “Transforming Youth in Recovery,” which focuses on the creation of campus collegiate recovery programs across the nation. It has been awarded at a time of a growing opioid abuse problem throughout the country.

Sarah Keiser, SCSU’s coordinator of alcohol and other drug services, said the three-year grant will enable Southern to provide the social, academic and in some cases, residential support systems for these students.

“The idea is to create a community for these students to engage with others who have similar interests and who want to live a healthy, sober lifestyle,” Keiser said. “In higher education, we are seeing students who not only faced an addiction problem in high school, but who received recovery treatments at that age. That is a big change from 20 years ago.”

Keiser said the focus of the first year of the grant will be to identify the students who are in recovery and need assistance. “We want to know how many students are in need of help, who they are, and how Southern can help them.”

She said that in the second year, the university will seek to establish programs and means of support. Keiser said among the possibilities are the creation of a lounge area for the students; connecting them with the Academic Success Center and peer-mentoring programs; and the development of a living, learning community and roommate pairing.

The third year of the grant would be focused on maintaining programs after the funding ends. “The good news is that the costs associated with these kinds of support are relatively small,” Keiser said. “And we may even be able to tap into other grants and sources of funding.”

Keiser said that in addition to the primary objective of helping students maintain a clean living style in recovery, the programs that will be funded through the grant also can have a positive effect on student retention and graduation rates.

She applied for the grant in April, and received word that Southern would be a recipient at around the time fall classes began a few weeks ago.