Bringing Substance Abuse Support to Students in Central Iowa

 Photo credit: Kari Shuck

Photo credit: Kari Shuck

YSS aims to give children, teens and young adults the opportunity to find their voice, make healthy choices, feel safe and secure, learn life skills, heal with compassion, grow their confidence and, ultimately—stand strong. Their mission is to create hope and opportunity by putting kids first.

As we know, substance abuse is becoming a very serious in the United States. According to The Treatment Center Residential Addiction Care, approximately 28 million Americans aged 12 and older – about 10.6% of the population – have used an illegal drug in the last month. This represents nearly one in 10 adults but is closer to one in four young adults. Additionally, 24 million Americans abuse marijuana and another 3.3% misuse prescription opiates. In 2016, 11.8 million people misused opioid pain relievers.

SAMHSA found that 136.7 million Americans 12 and older drink alcohol, with 63.5% reporting binge drinking and 16.3 million individuals citing heavy drinking over the past month. One in five teens aged 12 to 20 drink alcohol, with 7.3 million admitting to drinking in the last 30 days. In addition to alcohol, roughly 51.3 million individuals 12 years and older smoke cigarettes – and nearly 30 million smoke on a daily basis.

An estimated 20.1 million Americans struggle with a substance abuse disorder and require professional treatment to effectively move forward. By breakdown, nearly 15 million face alcoholism, while over 7 million are addicted to illicit drugs. Marijuana is the most common – around 4 million Americans are addicted to pot – but 2.1 million users are addicted to opiates. Of those in need of treatment, only 1.4% of people aged 12 and over sought assistance.

To focus on Iowa specifically, recent statistics indicate about 70 percent of Iowans in this age group between 18 – 25 years old admitted to binge drinking during the 30 days of a substance abuse survey.

So, as a Fellow for this summer from Future Leaders in Action, I’m working to create a continuum of care for youth have gone through addictions recovery or are currently in a recovery program. I have been working alongside with YSS and Student Wellness Department of Iowa State University (ISU) to create the first Collegiate Recovery program. I am currently working on creating survey questions that hopefully would help us to narrow down the population of students that have gone through on are currently in recovery.

We intend to create a safer environment for the ISU students who are/have involved in recovery and provide them with the facilities and support that they need. The project I am dealing with is a very highly sensitive topic that requires tremendous of research and reading. At the end of the day, with the training, guidance, and knowledge given by FLIA, YSS, and ISU I believe I can create a good Collegiate Recovery Program that would alter the lives of the ISU folks in a positive way!