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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The long road to recovery

    UA business major McLean Smith, 22, is in the final stages of his recovery at V3 but remains a resident to help out around the facility and encourage others to succeed.
    UA business major McLean Smith, 22, is in the final stages of his recovery at V3 but remains a resident to help out around the facility and encourage others to succeed.

    Logan Christie knew she had a problem when she just couldn’t stop drinking.

    The then-20-year-old was on the top of the world as a full-time UA student who focused on her studies and spent her down time at parties with her close friends.

    Then she hit her breaking point.

    “”I realized that I was drinking almost every day, not because I wanted to or because I thought it was cool, but because I just couldn’t help it,”” she said. “”For me, it went beyond partying, and I would get upset because I couldn’t stop drinking.””

    Christie’s story is not unlike that of many other people her age who have attended rehabilitation centers to cope with drug or alcohol dependencies during their time as students.

    In fact, 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence, according to a 2002 study by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Task Force on College Drinking.

    Tim Schnupp was just about to graduate with a degree in microbiology when drug use changed everything for him. The size and nightlife of Tucson and the UA were overwhelming, and the temptation to use drugs and alcohol was too great.

    “”I couldn’t even get up in the morning,”” Schnupp said.

    In 2004, the largest age group admitted into drug rehabilitation centers in Arizona was comprised of individuals between 21 and 25, according to statistics from www.drug-rehab.org.

    “”No matter how badly I wanted to stop using, I couldn’t, and everything got out of control.””

    Schnupp, 22, who recently completed his time in a rehabilitation center in Maryland, said he knew he needed to get help when everything that he valued became unimportant.

    “”I dropped out of school and I lost my job, all within two months,”” he said. “”I used to hold work and school in high esteem, and all of my morals just went out the window.””

    In the news, everyone from Britney Spears to Miss USA has been in and out of rehab for dependencies on drugs or alcohol, while “”Grey’s Anatomy”” star Isaiah Washington checked himself into a rehabilitation center for “”behavioral problems”” after making an anti-gay comment about a co-star.

    Years ago, “”rehabs”” were not nearly as much of an academy as they are now, with very few people even talking about such centers. These days, the rate of college-aged individuals entering rehab is steadily growing.

    In 2004, the largest age group admitted into drug rehabilitation centers in Arizona was comprised of individuals between 21 and 25, according to statistics from www.drug-rehab.org.

    From rehab to recovery

    For Christie, rehabilitation was a necessary part of her recovery. After finishing the spring 2006 semester at the UA, Christie went back to her home in Connecticut and entered herself into the Caron Foundation in Pennsylvania, a nationally recognized rehab center.

    There, she met many other girls her age who were also seeking treatment.

    “”I had about six friends there that were all my age,”” Christie said. “”Where I’m from, it’s really common to go to rehab.””

    Although Christie said she is thankful to have gotten the help she needed, she feels that rehab is becoming a more popular occurrence.

    “”I have so many friends who have gone to rehab,”” she said. “”I think some people go just to go.””

    Alcohol and drug dependency is a serious issue with late high school and college-aged youth, said Tambre Marshall, community outreach director at V3 Tucson, a local rehabilitation and substance-abuse treatment center.

    V3 Tucson focuses on long-term solutions to alcoholism, drug addiction and substance abuse. Marshall said it merges the essentials of the 12-step program with personal coaching designed to meet the needs of each resident.

    “”We at V3 have a recovery environment to undo behaviors and actions that are centered on substance abuse,”” she said. “”Substance abuse is the inability to effectively deal with emotional pain. And on a behavioral level, it’s obsession with self.””

    Located four miles away from the UA campus, Marshall said the university has ties to the program.

    “”So many of our kids actually end up going to the University of

    Arizona,”” she said. Is Arizona a ‘party school’?

    About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall, according to statistics from the NACAAA task force.

    Alcohol is the No. 1 substance abused on the UA campus, said Lynn Reyes, an alcohol- and drug-prevention specialist at Arizona.

    “”This also follows trends nationally in the general population of young adults,”” she said.

    According to the 2007 Princeton Review, the UA is No. 18 on the list of party schools, based on a combination of survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day and the popularity of the Greek system. The University of Texas at Austin tops the list.

    “”Students who focus on parties will find (them), but they can also focus on school,”” Reyes said of the UA’s ranking. “”I think that if you look for (partying) specifically, you will find it anywhere.””

    Compared to college campuses nationally with the same student populations, the UA does not have an extreme problem with alcohol or drug abuse, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, public information officer with the University of Arizona Police Department.

    “”I wouldn’t call our campus more of a party campus than others because the time for socializing on our campus is not extraordinary in comparison,”” Mejia said. “”But more than 70 percent of activities are outside of classroom, and some college-aged students tend to look for ways to spend their non-educationally committed time. Some focus on drinking behaviors.””

    Typically, if students are caught drinking or using drugs on campus, they are encouraged or mandated to take diversion, or alcohol-education, courses that are offered through the university – which could be considered a type of rehab, he said.

    “”There are so many factors that go into it,”” Mejia said of the term ‘rehab.’ “”What are they deeming court-ordered? What are they calling ‘rehab’? Is it in lieu of criminal consequence?””

    It is not uncommon, Mejia said, for individuals to choose to attend rehab centers when faced with the option of getting help or facing jail time, but the situation differs on a case-by-case basis.

    In Schnupp’s experience, many individuals who were at rehab with him were there in association with a pending court case.

    “”It’s becoming much more popular to go to rehab,”” he said. “”People do it because it looks good when they go to court, and others do it to try to save their families. I would say that about 40 percent of the people in rehab with me were under the age of 30.””

    Getting help

    Many different resources are available at the UA if you or someone you know is in need of services involving drug

    or alcohol abuse and dependence.

    Although the UA has a zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse and drugs, there are options to choose from simply with personal well-being in mind, Reyes said.

    Through the Campus Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services program, licensed professionals aid students with alcohol and drug concerns by providing psychological counseling surrounding life situations and other issues students might be facing.

    Three years ago, Campus Health initiated Project CHAT to provide an outlet for students who are or know someone who is struggling with substance abuse.

    Through a referral, program representatives will meet with the individual in question and often will stage an intervention.

    “”Referrals come from a number of different sources,”” said Sally Stevens, executive director of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women, who is involved in CHAT. “”They can come from students themselves, friends, campus health personnel, etc. We do a short interview, and then the person moves on and has a two-session intervention and then we will still follow them up at three months and six months (afterward).””

    In total, a participant will make four visits with Project CHAT individuals over six months.

    Admittance into a rehabilitation center is not always the outcome, Stevens said, as it is typically up to the interventionist and the therapist to recommend whether the individual should go on to other kinds of treatment.

    Currently, Project CHAT offers free services to both undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, students can go to the Campus Health Web site at www.health.arizona.edu.

    “”It seems to be helping,”” Stevens said.

    For students like Christie, getting help has made all the difference.

    “”Rehab has got to be taken seriously. It’s not for juvenile things,”” she said. “”But, even though it is often abused, I really believe that everyone can get something out of it.

    “”It made me a stronger person from going through the program, and I’m glad to say that I came back to Tucson sober.””

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