Louisiana Universities Partner to Combat Substance Abuse
BATON ROUGE – University and college professionals came from across the state to attend the Louisiana Higher Education Coalitions, or LaHEC, annual summit, titled “Reducing Substance Use among Louisiana’s College Students.” The LaHEC Summit took place July 12-13 at the Lod Cook Conference Center at LSU.
More than 20 Louisiana institutions of higher education were represented at this year’s summit along with state and community stakeholders in alcohol and drug prevention. National and local experts presented a variety of topics such as prevention leadership, motivational interviewing, social norms campaigns, building campus community coalitions and youth drug trends.
In addition, participants were afforded the opportunity to attend a half-day workshop led by Beth DeRicco of DeRicco Consulting that addressed the requirements of the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act. This federal law mandates specific alcohol and drug prevention initiatives including annual notification of policies to students, faculty and staff, as well as a biennial report to illustrate all aspects of alcohol and drug prevention efforts. According to DeRicco, campuses must ensure compliance to this federal law or undergo severe consequences that may result in a complete loss of federal funds such as financial aid for students.
LaHEC’s mission is to foster safe and healthy collegiate communities by reducing problems associated with students’ substance use through the process of collaboration among institutions of higher education and key community and state stakeholders. One of LaHEC’s primary initiatives involves the statewide administration of the CORE Alcohol and Drug survey, which is offered free of charge to all Louisiana institutions of higher education. LaHEC staff members utilize CORE survey results to assist higher education staff in strategic planning to reduce problems associated with substance use on their respective campuses.
“LaHEC has been a valuable resource for Louisiana Tech,” said Chris Medley, coordinator of alcohol and drug education at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. “They have provided useful and relevant trainings that have improved the quality of prevention on our campus.”
At this time, LaHEC membership is comprised of more than 30 Louisiana institutions of higher education, including four-year public and private universities as well as two-year community and technical colleges.
“We are always looking to increase our membership and hope to partner with every higher education institution in the state of Louisiana by 2014,” said Bret Blackmon, the coordinating chairperson of LaHEC and associate director of the Louisiana Center Addressing Substance Use in Collegiate Communities, LaCASU.
LaHEC is funded by the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Behavioral Health and operates out of the LaCASU office under the Department of Equity, Diversity, and Community Outreach at LSU.
For more information about LaHEC and LaCASU, please visit www.Lsu.edu/lacasu.