June 13, 2024

What would you do if confronted by addiction? Residence Life sought to help students answer that question by organizing an event last week to raise awareness of the addiction epidemic in America and educate students on how to confront and intervene in addiction.

The program was organized by Resident Advisor Meagan Tanner, ‘19, and started with a presentation by Sheri Haines, a licensed counselor and the manager of Mercy REACH, an organization within Mercy Health Medical Center in Springfield that works to confront addicts and provide them with the help and support they need to overcome addiction.

Haines’ presentation focused on the statistics of addiction, including causes, symptoms and dangerous stereotypes that people associate with addiction. Haines focused mainly on alcohol and drug abuse because those are the most common, especially among college students.

“Colleges teach you how to drink,” Haines said, “because there’s so much going on.”

One of the biggest causes of alcohol or drug addiction is stress, and college students are very familiar with stress of all kinds. Haines stressed that addiction is most commonly hereditary, so if you have a family member with an addiction, it’s incredibly important to avoid addictive substances at all costs. Just once is all it takes, Haines emphasized.

Following Haines’ presentation, students armed with the new information of the severity of addiction were taken to three different rooms. The rooms were set up with other RA actors to reflect three specific addictions: alcohol, heroin and Adderall. The actors would act out what each of these addictions looked like, and then would sit down with the audience to go over how they can confront an addict. Each of these different scenarios was unique and eye-opening to the reality of addiction. It can be difficult to see an alcoholic addiction because it could be seen as someone who just really likes to party. An Adderall addiction can be explained away as someone just trying to be productive and get all their assignments done.

College is a prime time for students to develop addictions; the stress of school and the fear of the future can drive people to seek out addictive substances. But it’s important to be aware of the dangers of addiction to confront a friend or loved one.

If you know someone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you can encourage them to contact the Mercy Health Medical Center’s Mercy REACH program. They offer an outpatient treatment program and intervention to support both adults and adolescents and free them from addiction. Their Medical Building phone number is 937-390-5338, and the Mercy Memorial Hospital’s number is 937-653-3001.

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