Feb 202005
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

Thanks to a proposal by the CSU Alcohol Task Force, the Drugs, Alcohol and You (DAY) program at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Education is expected to expand.

The center has been helping students with drug or alcohol dependency since its creation in 1989. DAY has five different levels, which are tailored to respond to students' needs on a personalized assessment of severity, said Pam McCracken, the director of the center.

DAY I is a more generalized drug- and alcohol-education class held in the Wellness Zone in the Lory Student Center.

DAY-Tox offers follow up for students who were taken to a detoxification center after alcohol overdose.

Carrie Haynes, a counseling and career development graduate student, teaches the DAY I class with another graduate student from 6 to 9 p.m. every other Wednesday.

"It's mostly students who have gotten in trouble with alcohol," Haynes said. "It's usually a first offense, not always but usually. It's really meant to give the students information and raise awareness about alcohol. We talk a lot about just being responsible."

Haynes said class discussions are often about understanding the consequences of drinking and the differences between reality and perceptions of drinking in society.

"A lot of the students are surrounded by people that are drinking like them so they think that's the norm," Haynes said. "But most of our students (at CSU) are responsible."

DAY II is an individual risk assessment.

"It's a little more serious in nature," McCracken said. "We try to look at the individual's behavior (and get them thinking about) 'what can I do differently to prevent this?'"

DAY III offers support groups for students wanting to quit or reduce their alcohol intake. DAY IV, also known as the campus drug court, is the most serious of the programs.

"Currently we're the only campus in the country that has (DAY IV)," McCracken said. "It's students at risk from the university."

DAY IV is modeled after a community drug-court system. In the mid-1980s, a campaign emerged in Florida to offer an alternative program for people facing convictions on drug or alcohol charges. Larimer County started a juvenile program in 2001 and discussed starting a similar program at CSU, said Lisa Miller, the assistant director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services and a judicial hearing officer for DAY IV program.

DAY IV is a four-month to four-year program, although Miller said the average amount of time students spend in the program is six or eight months.

"It's voluntary in the fact you can either take the dismissal (from the university) or you can take the program," Miller said. "They usually pick the program because they want to stay in school."

Of all the participants, 90 percent are men and 72 percent complete the program, Miller said. To get into the program, the students undergo a psychological evaluation, a drug and alcohol history and a police background check. During the program, the students have random drug tests and in the beginning have almost daily Breathalyzer tests, Miller said.

"It's not a soft program so it's very difficult," Miller said. "I play the role of the judge. I check on their progress. Sometimes they're doing so well they get rewards. It's a total abstinence program so you cannot use, you cannot drink, nothing."

Miller said the program helps to design specific ways for students to utilize campus resources they might not have used before, such as counseling or tutoring.

"If they have a low GPA they go to tutoring," Miller said.

Expansions are in the beginning stages and everything from DAY I to DAY IV will reap the benefits. The Alcohol Task Force included detailed expansion plans for the program in its recommendations to CSU President Larry Penley early this month.

"There will be some revamping in some respects," McCracken said. "We want to do some early recognition. The (DAY I) class will be more expanded. We're seeing more people (seeking help)."

The Center for Drug and Alcohol Education has applied for a grant that would cover most of the expansions McCracken has envisioned, but it will be a few months before the money is granted. Whether the grant proposal is accepted will not affect expansion plans, although it may slow the process.

"There may be other campus facilities that will help out (with the costs)," McCracken said. "We can use grad students and that helps offset costs and gives them experience."

Though many students are referred to the DAY services through discipline action, there are many students who are referred by friends or professors and even some who are seeking help on their own. McCracken said the office is always open for students looking for help with their lifestyle.

"Usually they just call our office or even walk in," McCracken said. "We sit down with them and hopefully move them in a direction that would help them."

There are some students who take the DAY I class just to learn a little more. Haynes said last fall there were two students who self-enrolled. The cost is $40 for students who are required to take the class, but for anyone who self-enrolls the class is free.

"I think the students leave with more information and tools to be responsible," Haynes said. "(For) a lot of them that's all they need but some we will see again."

DAY IV is in the process of helping a national committee that would help more colleges and universities develop similar programs. Miller said the program is also trying to find more ways to get people using the resources on campus.

"Students would tell you that (the program is) very hard," Miller said. "But they're getting involved on a deeper level. We have more ways for people to look at their history and hook them up with resources."

Miller said working with DAY IV has been one of the most rewarding things she has done.

"It's very exciting to see the transformation," Miller said. "We've seen some incredible people come through the program."

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