Resources and support networks are oftentimes shared with students struggling with substance use disorder themselves, but the WVU School of Nursing advising team realized there was a population of students oftentimes falling through the cracks — students with loved ones suffering from SUD.
Cathy Camden, a senior academic advisor, spearheaded the initiative after discovering several students had fallen behind academically because of the issues surrounding their parents’ addiction.
The advising team established a brochure, “Coping with Addiction,” to help students identify symptoms of SUD, to offer self-care tips, and to share information about the assistance can receive from their academic advisors. Additionally, a handout is available with local support group information for friends and family members.
“We’re trying to let them know there’s a judgment free environment where they can talk and confide in us,” Camden said. “We can assist with medical leave and point them to scholarships and other financial support.”
During the NACADA Region Three Conference, which welcomes advisors from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, Camden and her colleague Dedra Cobb presented “Hope in the Hills: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic through Advising in the Appalachian Regions.”
The conference, held March 22-24 in Wilmington, North Carolina, was an opportunity for the advising team to share their model, so other advisors in Appalachia can help students in need of resources and support.
Julien Nguyen, director of advising and student success, encouraged Camden not only to pursue the project but to give her first poster presentation at the conference.
“I was very excited and encouraged by Cathy’s idea,” said Nguyen, who noted that all members of the advising staff are certified as mental health counselors and recovery allies. They are also trained to administer naloxone.
“Addiction really affects a family a lot,” Camden said. “There’s still so much stigma, so students are afraid to talk about it. We’re really trying to open the door for that.”
CONTACT: Wendy Holdren
Director of Communications and Marketing
WVU School of Nursing