Letter to the editor

In response to your recent article, “Gatepost survey finds opioid crisis has impacted one in three students,” I want to thank The Gatepost for conducting this important survey across our campus.  I found the data you collected to be very informative, and I will use it to shape future substance abuse programing on our campus.   Abuse of opioids in any form is dangerous, highly addictive, and all too often fatal.  Your story sheds light on the impact this epidemic has on our community.

Students can be reluctant to talk openly about substance use.  Their stories are deeply personal, and often involve feelings of shame and stigma.  In addition, drugs are illegal, FSU has a zero tolerance policy and students might feel nervous opening up about a habit they think could get them in trouble.  In many cases it’s the people who need help the most that are the least likely to get it.

As a practitioner, it is difficult to know who needs help because there are students spread out across our community who we may never see. Opioid use is very serious, and experimentation can quickly lead to addiction.   If you or someone you know needs help I assure you that there are people here on campus who will assist you in any way we can.  There are resources available to students in the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center in Foster Hall.  There are also resources available through the state which can be found on their site https://helplinema.org or by calling 1-800-327-5050.

As fellow students, you have a unique opportunity to genuinely connect with each other.  You share things with your friends that you may not share with staff, faculty, or your family.  This is obvious by the success of the Gatepost opioid survey, where you solicited the input of 500 students, many of whom shared the intimate details of their substance use.  Others shared stories of how they have been impacted by a friend or family member’s struggle with opioids.   This epidemic impacts all of us in different ways.  If you have an opportunity to help someone, I encourage you to do so.  Research shows that peer to peer interactions can be very powerful.  In the face of something as serious as the opioid epidemic your support toward one another could be very influential in helping those who may need help.

Please look for upcoming education on opioids in March.  We will host a film screening on March 1 at 7 p.m. in The Forum of “The Hungry Heart.”  The Film has won several documentary awards for its honest look at prescription drug abuse and opiate addiction through the work of a pediatrician attempting to help youth in his community.  The film is open to everyone, and will be followed by a discussion.  In addition we will host an opioid educational table in McCarthy Center on March 7 from 12 to 2 p.m.Educational materials on opiates will be available including information about treatment options.  Wellness staff will be available at the table to answer questions.

If students have interest in getting more involved in the health outreach and substance abuse programming on campus your input is welcome.  Feel free to stop by the Wellness Office at any time. Additionally, I invite you to apply for the SEALS peer health educator program.  For more information and the application, call 508-626-4693 or visit Wellness Education/ SEALS on RAMlink.  Each year we hire a group of peers to assist with campus-wide programming.  This is a paid leadership position on campus.  Your ideas and input are valuable and your involvement can have a powerful impact on our campus community.

Thank you again to The Gatepost for your excellent work on this issue.

Sincerely,

Joy LaGrutta

Coordinator of Alcohol & Drug Education Center for Wellness

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