Share This Page

Counseling, off-campus resources teem in Western Pennsylvania

At schools throughout Western Pennsylvania, students recovering from addictions can find counseling and information about off-campus resources to help with their recovery.

The University of Pittsburgh employs a full-time drug and alcohol specialist who can evaluate students, refer them for treatment or connect them with programs. The counseling center offers individual therapy and a support group.

Counselors there suggest that students drink responsibly or use healthy coping strategies -- a "harm-reduction approach" to alcohol use and abuse -- because they realize it's hard for some students to fully abstain from drinking, said Sharon Young, associate director of the center.

West Virginia University in Morgantown holds on-campus Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other support groups. The university offers direct counseling and therapy for students in recovery.

California University of Pennsylvania has a dedicated drug and alcohol counselor on staff and offers BASICS, a program sponsored by the State System of Higher Education, which targets at-risk students with alcohol awareness education.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and Saint Vincent College refer students to AA meetings and other programs off campus.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania students can opt for clean-and-sober living facilities. Students can choose to live on the SOAR floor (Students Opting for an Alcohol and Drug-free Residence) in the Suites on Maple East, said Ann Sesti, assistant director for IUP's Center for Health and Well-being.

"Most of the people who opt to live on that floor are choosing (it) more for health or lifestyle reasons than recovery," Sesti said. "It certainly is a supportive atmosphere for individuals who are in recovery and returning to the community and IUP."

IUP does not offer on-campus group support meetings, though it has. Counselors post information about AA and Narcotics Anonymous meetings within walking distance of campus, Sesti said.

Not all universities consider substance-free living the best way to help students adapt to life after addiction.

Corey Farris, interim dean of students and director of housing at WVU, said the school does not designate housing for students in recovery or those seeking a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle. That can send a mixed message to students that it's OK to drink or do drugs in other residence halls, he said.

"To me, in the real world, a student is not going to live in an environment where there aren't people around them (drinking and using drugs)," Farris said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.