Waldron College hosts campuswide discussion of thorny issue of substance abuse
On Jan. 11, Dr. William Hazel, Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, keynoted the Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice’s symposium on substance abuse.
The symposium brought almost 50 members of the Radford University campus and community together to explore various facets of a wide-ranging problem.
“The problem is addiction. We’ve had addiction forever,” said Hazel. “The brain will get addicted and that is the problem we face at all levels.”
For Hazel, the visit to Radford occurred on the final day of his two-term tenure as secretary.
Hazel detailed the focus areas of the Commonwealth’s response to the problems of abuse of opioids, heroin and other powerful and addictive substances: harm reduction, making resources available, changing prescribing patterns, interdiction and changing the culture.
“When you look at this from the state perspective, not every place is the same and addressing this crisis is very much a local, or community, problem,” Hazel said.
The impact on families has become especially apparent said Hazel.
“We’ve seen the number of children coming into the foster care system double since 2010, so addiction is now the leading cause of family disruption.”
To characterize the local perspective, James Pritchett, director of New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS), reviewed data and outlined the NRVCS efforts to understand and alleviate the substance use problems in the City of Radford and Montgomery, Floyd, Pulaski and Giles counties. Nursing Professor Victoria Bierman also outlined the four-year, $1.9 million grant that will train Radford students from the Schools of Nursing and Social Work, Master of Occupational Therapy (OT) program, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program, Counselor Education program and Criminal Justice program to work with individuals assigned to local drug courts.
Various panels featuring Radford University faculty and staff then discussed the university's multiple initiatives to address substance use and abuse.
Criminal Justice Professor Stephen Owen offered insight into substance abuse policies. Amira Turner, coordinator of Radford University’s REVIVE program and Psy.D. candidate Paul Pohto discussed rehabilitation while Nadine Hartig, chair of Radford University’s Department of Counselor Education and Kelly Rubin, director of Radford’s Student Counseling Services talked about the campus’ widespread prevention and wellness efforts. Rubin also joined RUPD Lieutenant Scott Shaffer and David Stuart, director of Radford University’s Office of Student Standards and Conduct to discuss college students and substance abuse.
“Today’s symposium is a spectacular example of coming together to address difficult issues through interprofessional collaboration by the campus and the community,” said Waldon College of Health and Human Services Dean Ken Cox.