Seeking professional support

For some, drug use is an escape, an occasional release from the mundane pressures of life. They can use them recreationally and not become hooked. But others can’t seem to draw the line . When does drug use become an addiction?

For students who feel they may have an addiction problem, there is help. The Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, a part of the USF Counseling Center for Human Development, offers addiction counseling and referrals to treatment and rehabilitation centers.

“Students come to us and they want a clearer picture of their drug usage to see if they have a problem,” said Linda Chamberlain, director of CASA.

Students are also referred by judicial services and residence life, Chamberlain said.

CASA determines if someone has an abuse problem by having the person fill out questionnaires and conduct a thorough interview. Ultimately, Chamberlain said, it’s up to the student to realize and admit they have a problem.

“I look at the relationship the person has with the substance,” Chamberlain said. “If it is problematic, they’re not performing as well at school, their relationships with family and friends are suffering, they end up in the emergency room from drug overdose or alcohol poisoning, or they’re not as healthy as they used to be.”

Chamberlain said someone might have a substance abuse problem if they show any signs the substance is interfering with their ability to function normally.

After it’s determined that someone has a problem, CASA offers the Attitudes and Adjustments Program, which is a four-step process.

The first step is the initial interview. After that, the counseling center Web site ( )states that students are given psychological tests to generate a profile that highlights the person’s experiences with the substance.

Chamberlain added that the second step also involves an educational process. The student learns about what the drug is and how it affects their body and their life overall.

The next step is small group session. Here, the participants are expected to share experiences and opinions about their addictions.

The final step is a 90-minute interview allowing participants to talk about what they have learned and create a plan to stop their addiction.

Chamberlain said they encourage people to ask for additional help if they feel they need it. More counseling sessions can be planned, or the student can be referred to a community center.

Chamberlain said CASA hopes to implement a new program called SAFE, Students from Altered Family Environments. This program will cater to anyone who has been affected by someone with a substance abuse problem, whether it is a family member, friend or romantic partner.

As soon as the group has between 10 to 12 people, they will begin meeting every Thursday morning from 9 to 10:30. Chamberlain said she hopes to begin the program in the first or second Thursday in November.

CASA also has services for alcohol abuse, and next week they’ll be recognizing National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week with booths set up on campus. National Collegiate Drug Awareness Week will be recognized in the spring.

Students who would like more information about substance abuse can contact CASA at 974-2831, or can visit the offices at Student Services. Building 2124.