Students got to take a closer look at the effects of substance abuse on Tuesday, December 1. Dr. Emek Ergun’s Feminist Practices class held a campus-wide event to inform students about the consequences of substance abuse and provide resources to those in need.
A group of approximately 40 students filed into the Mabel Brown Room to watch a documentary called “A Hungry Heart.” The film depicted a number of addicts and their processes of becoming clean. According to the film’s website, Hungry Heart provides an intimate look at the often hidden world of prescription drug addiction through the world of Vermont Pediatrician Fred Holmes, who works with patients struggling with this disease. In the documentary, Dr. Holmes prescribes suboxone, a drug designed to treat opiate addiction, to his patients wrestling the addiction of prescription drugs. Throughout the film, viewers get an inside look at real-life addicts and their journeys to becoming clean.
Keene State College sophomore JP Colasacco is a member of the Feminist Practices class and helped put on the event.
“The entire class had to work together to plan a campus-wide project that would benefit our students and enrich them with knowledge of alcoholism, substance abuse and how it’s important to learn about the steps for recovery,” Colasacco said.
He said he was very satisfied with the turn out because he thought a lot of students enjoyed the movie.
Sophomore Carli Cioppa was also involved in the event. “We chose to show the film Hungry Heart because we thought it was prevalent towards a college campus. It focuses on alcohol and substance abuse which is a large problem for a lot of students on college campuses,” she said.
Colasacco also agreed that the movie was prevalent to college students. “It had great resources that could help students out for their studies or personal issues that they or someone they know might have.”
Representatives of KSC’s counseling center, MVCP Crisis and Prevention Center and KSC’s Diversity and Multicultural Office attended the event to promote a healthy lifestyle and provide resources to those in need. “Some students don’t have anyone to talk to about these issues,” Cioppa said. She said it was important to have different organizations present during the event. “Representatives of these organizations have experience with recovery and counseling for those who are suffering from alcohol/substance abuse,” she said.
Michelle Morrow is the coordinator of AOD Prevention, Treatment and Education services at the counseling center. Morrow said she was at the event to promote information regarding addiction, drug and alcohol abuse, and to make sure students are aware of the services available at the counseling center. “I think events like this are incredibly important because it raises awareness and hopefully increases discussion of the issue of addiction,” she said. Morrow said she was thrilled to be a part of the event and was glad the event was created by KSC students. Dr. Emek Ergun teaches the Feminist Practices class that held the event and said she was very happy with the turnout at the event. “We were competing with a few other events that night, but I’m so proud of my class,” Ergun said.
“Our class is studying how to make social change,” she said. She said she is open to the idea of community members attending such events on campus. “This campus is a crucial part of our community and we want people of the community to see that [KSC] cares about them,” she said.
Ergun said she hopes the event creates discussion on campus. “If we don’t acknowledge that there is a [substance abuse] issue, we can’t do anything about it,” she said. She said she encourages students to reach out if they are struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism issues.
As for the result of the event, Colasacco said he was happy to pass on the knowledge he has obtained in class to fellow KSC students. “Getting the word out and teaching these harsh topics is important because it lets people know that it’s okay to talk about harder topics of this sort and that there are resources to help,” he said.
Morrow said she believes that the stigma around addiction can have a tremendous impact that may delay or prevent somebody from reaching out for help. “My biggest piece of advice for anyone who is struggling or questioning their use of substance abuse is to access support,” she said. She said she believes it can be difficult to reach out, but believes that is the only way to really make a change.
“It’s important to realize that change may take some time, and while you are trying to help somebody else you want to make sure you are taking care of yourself as well,” Morrow said.
“We put this event on in hopes to help at least one person, so if they can help a friend from it then we achieved exactly what we wanted to,” Cioppa said.
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