As of Feb. 1, students who visit the Winans Wellness Center will now be questioned about their drug and alcohol usage, as a part of a new program.
The program, which is called Screening, Brief Intervention & Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), is a part of a broader, 18-month federal research study which seeks to encourage students to better understand the health effects of alcohol and drug use.
Rowan is the first university in New Jersey to take part in the study.
The survey consists of four short questions and students who utilize the Wellness Center are in no way forced to take the survey. Additionally, students’ answers are entirely confidential and their names are removed once they are sent to national databases.
“If a student indicates upon check-in at the kiosk that they may have health risks associated with their usage, a health educator will come speak with them about their health choices before their regular appointment begins,” said Scott Woodside, Director for Student Health Services.
If the educator indicates that the student may need further guidance regarding their usage they will be referred to Bob Logan, a substance abuse counselor, for follow-up. This is not a therapist service, but a service which provides education and resources to help students possibly curb their drug and alcohol usage.
“Ideally, all of this is supposed to happen within one visit,” Woodside said. “Referral to Bob takes more time, but feedback about students’ health is supposed to be provided within the visit.”
Instead of focusing on punitive actions which often follow drug and alcohol use, the research grant hopes to inform people of the health risks associated with it instead. Woodside believes this aspect is seldom addressed, but should be.
“I’m excited to see what this study can do at Rowan because we want to make that link that shows usage [of drugs and alcohol] does affect your health, wellness, and well-being,” Woodside said. “It’s important for students especially to make that connection and know there are effects.”
If students agree to a six-month follow-up with Bob Logan, they will be given a $20 gift card as an incentive for their participation.
“I ultimately hope that this gives students an opportunity to self-asses their drug and alcohol use. It’s not an abstinence program, we just want to help them think more about their choices,” said Bob Logan. “It’s also a great way to have a discussion with someone who knows something.”
Woodside is hopeful that students will take advantage of the program.
“I know students won’t be coming in to take this questionnaire,” Woodside said. “We’re hoping to empower students to be health care advocates. I hope they’ll take advantage of that.”