By AndrewPhillips, Director, Children of Alcoholics Foundation, a
New York based, non-profit organization which is an affiliate of Phoenix
Options is the first comprehensive program designed specifically to help college students who come from families affected by parental alcohol or other substance abuse (most often referred to as ACOAs or ACOSAs).
Drug or alcohol abuse, risky sexual behavior and unwanted pregnancy, suicide attempts, eating disorders, school failure, criminal activity and violence are all more likely to occur within this group of vulnerable young adults. They generally have deep feelings of shame or guilt about their family's "secret" and often have difficulty developing or maintaining healthy relationships.
Compared to other non-COA students, youth from addicted families also experience more injuries and illness, and are hospitalized more often for anxiety and depression.
The good part is that, by making it to college, these students have shown they can overcome significant odds. Many may even be your best students. However, they may also be overwhelmed by the combination of new freedoms and the academic or social pressures of college life, resulting in poor performance in classes or possibly dropping out of school all together.
College is a time of personal growth and exploration. It is also a time when underlying feelings about a family member's substance abuse can come to the surface, often for the first time. Even if they received help in high school, most colleges do not have programs specifically designed for students from addicted families. Students from addicted homes can benefit greatly from help coming to terms with their family situation and developing skills for success.
It has been field-tested in college environments (at Rutgers University, New Jersey; Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania and the University of California at Riverside) and provides practical solutions to common situations, incorporating the real-life experiences of college students. Options was also independently evaluated by MAGI Educational Services, Inc. and focus groups were conducted on all student materials with both the general population of students on each campus as well as students who were identified as having a history of family addiction. The training modules were tested as well, with a variety of on-campus professionals, all to very positive response.
A 96-page "how to" manual on getting the most out of the college years, the Student Handbook gives students practical options for handling difficult situations such as dealing with pressures to drink alcohol and use drugs, adjusting to your first year, performing academically, taking care of your physical health, as well as maintaining healthy relationships at school and at home. The recommendations are based on the real-life experiences of college students who succeeded in similar situations. The handbook encourages them to examine their past, their current coping mechanisms, understand their own risks for addiction, and most importantly, to plan for the future.
79% of students who read the handbook plan to talk about it with a friend; 31% were motivated to join a support group and 66% to contact one of the resources listed.
These six ready-to-use training modules give on-campus staff the tools to support students from addicted families. Each module includes a step-by-step facilitator's guide, overhead masters, and handouts for participants.
The modules are easily facilitated by qualified personnel and can be customized to provide a training program to meet your college or university's needs. Staff who will benefit from the workshops include: health services, counseling / psychological services, student affairs, athletics, faculty, administration, peer educators and resident advisors.
The campus staff who field tested the workshops agreed that the content was highly relevant to their work and that it had many practical applications. Test results showed significant gains in knowledge about multicultural issues, communication skills and understanding of resiliency. 85% of the training participants would recommend the workshops to a colleague.
Resources included in the training curriculum:
On-site or regional training available: The Children of Alcoholics Foundation is also pleased to offer on-site or shared, regional trainings for those who would like to have the workshops presented by one of our team members. These trainings would be customized and priced according to your needs. Please call Cheryl Bobe, COAF's Manager of Training and Program, for further information.
A sample kit of the Options program (which includes a poster, booklet, handbook, and wallet card) is available at no cost upon request by fax, postal mail, or email to the COAF address below.
For costs of the Options program components, contact the address below or check out their website at http://WWW.COAF.ORG/npul.htm
Children of Alcoholics Foundation
33 West 60th Street - 5th floor
New York, NY 10023
phone: 212-757-2100 ext. 6370
Andrew Phillips - Director
Cheryl Bobe - Manager of Training & Program
Naomi Weinstein - Manager of Public Education
The Children of Alcoholics Foundation (COAF) is a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the inter-generational cycle of addiction in families. COAF provides free information and referral through its HelpLink service at 800-359- COAF (2623). It develops materials for the public, as well as curricula and trainings for professionals in education, social service and health care.
The Children of Alcoholics Foundation is an affiliate of Phoenix House, the nation's leading non-profit substance abuse service organization. Phoenix House provides treatment for more than 3,000 adolescents and adults through residential and outpatient programs in Texas, New York, New Jersey and California. Founded in 1967, Phoenix House has treated more than 70,000 people -- saving lives and strengthening families and communities.
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