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Campus offers substance abuse cessation help

Submitted by Grace Townsend on April 8, 2012 – 1:34 pmNo Comment

Just as there are students abusing other substances, there are services on the UALR campus for students who have used prescription drugs.

Vanessa Lewis, coordinator of health promotion, programs and education, leads the university’s health promotion and wellness initiatives, has also noticed that prescription drugs have become an issue.

“I remember in my day when we would drink wine coolers and that would be enough. Today it seems like teenagers and young adults have to amplify a situation by resorting to pills along with drinking. They seem to know the consequences from crack/cocaine so they think well, if I just take a prescription drug it isn’t going to ruin me like crack or cocaine would. With this generation, it is never enough. There always has to something more,” Lewis said.

Lewis and her staff offer programs for students and staff who need someone to talk to about drugs, relationships, alcohol, etc. and health programs to promote a healthy drug-free lifestyle. They also train students to help with these programs.

Lewis said students often feel more comfortable talking to other students about their issues. “If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me, I have the 15 certified peers that can talk to you about your issues. The issues just don’t have to be drugs, it can be relationship issues, eating disorders, violence in a relationship, date rape and alcohol,” Lewis added.

The group of peer educators is called Trojan Talk. It is a registered group of students that promote healthier lifestyles and alternative to high-risk behaviors such as taking prescription drugs. Trojan Talk meets every other week throughout the school semester at 5:30 p.m. in the Donaghey Student Center.

Stress was reported as a top reason on the reporter survey for abusing prescription drugs. Doctors often recommend exercise as a stress-reliever and UALR has a couple of groups that can assist with that. The “Trojan Trailblazers” and the “Weight and Wellness Group” are designed to keep students and staff physically active and healthy.

“If people start walking a lot, they’re going to want to do more. It’s just a jump-start to getting students involved in more exercise and to keep them away from things such as prescription drugs,” Lewis said.

The Trojan Trailblazers is a group that goes on scheduled walks for exercise. Each member is given a pedometer to keep up with his or her steps throughout the semester. At the end of the semester the member that has walked the most steps gets a gift certificate, t-shirt and water bottle. Other members will get a t-shirt and water bottle as well.

The Weight and Wellness group is an approach to weight loss focusing on creating a balanced lifestyle, staying away from drugs and maintaining a healthy weight throughout life. The classes provide social support, positive reinforcementand educational materials to succeed in life.

The Health Promotion Center and offices in located in the DSC in Suite 16. If Lewis or anyone on her staff feels that a person needs to seek more professional care they will send the student for professional counseling. They also have a registered nurse and nurse practitioner on hand for students and staff that need medical care if they’re not feeling well or have taken something that has made them feel ill.

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