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IU Group Aims to Assist Students Struggling with Addiction


Addiction affects all kinds of people, even college students. Now, three people at Indiana University have come together to create a campus recovery community for students who want to beat their addictions and successfully navigate the remainder of their college years in sobriety. WFHB News correspondent Jordan Guskey looked into the group and its mission for today’s WFHB Community report.


When Kristen Martin was a freshman in high school in Gary, Indiana, she and her friends pushed together four tables in Calumet High School’s cafeteria every lunch period.

As high school progressed, their number dwindled. Alcohol and drug abuse resulted in many expelled, jailed or dead.

By her senior year, Martin sat alone.

Like her friends, Martin has suffered from alcohol and drug addiction since she was young, her first drink at age 12. Orange juice and vodka.

Although she’s 25 now and four years sober working in the child welfare field with a bachelor’s degree in social work from IU, the road she’s taken to get to this point has been rocky.

“I know for a fact most people can’t come out of it like I did,” Martin said.

Now Martin has teamed up with people at IU to create a campus recovery community at IU’s Bloomington campus.

Students in Recovery Bloomington will use a community focused approach to aid students attempting to traverse college life in recovery from their addictions to alcohol and, or, drugs.

“I just feel like the sense of community is the thing that empowers us the most,” Martin said. “With each individual that’s in recovery we have our own knowledge, expertise, access to resources and we can just really help each other out in a way that others usually can’t you know? There’s an emotional side to us, we are very … we just need each other.”

The group began with a phone call when IU rising junior Jake Desmond contacted OASIS, IU’s drug and alcohol prevention, information and education center, and got in touch with OASIS Director Jackie Daniels as he inquired about what IU had to offer him as he continued his own recovery.

“I was trying to get a hold of her, because I knew down here on my own I’m not making it. There’s no way I’m going to stay sober,” Desmond said. “But, with a group of students that’s in the same situation as me we’ve got a pretty damn good shot. There’s some 12-step programs down here that are pretty damn good as well. So, I mean, this whole thing kind of got me plugged in there, and once me and Jackie got together things really got rolling.”

Desmond is 21 and two years sober as of July 1st. He was looking to come back to Bloomington for the first time since what he describes as a toxic freshmen year landed him at a rehab facility in Nashville, Tennessee, for 33 days.

He followed that up with two years in Indianapolis as 10 months at a halfway house and classes at IUPUI helped him adjust to living in recovery.

Desmond got Daniels in touch with the organization Transforming Youth Recovery, which subsequently gave Students in Recovery Bloomington a $10,000 grant as seed money to kick start its efforts.

This money will help the group publicize and fund events, which in Martin’s eyes might bring in people who need help who wouldn’t have come otherwise.

“We go out for coffee, we have bonfires. I mean we are just, we’re fun,” Martin said. “We are loud still, we are obnoxious and we laugh and we have fun. It would be cool if they could see people who are in recovery and they’re not much different than the rest of the world.”

OASIS estimates 545 IU students struggle with addiction each year. That’s the size of a small residence hall.

Martin knows what these students are going through, and how a recovery community could help transition them to sobriety.

“This is a disease and with it is a compulsion to use and use and use,” Martin said. “And some people can’t put anything in their body and have control over their use at that point. Like as soon as I started drinking I couldn’t control, my inhibitions were lower, I couldn’t control what else I put in my body I just wanted more. You know? And it’s really hard for people to understand but those in the recovery world, which is lots and lots of people, they completely get it.”

IU has substance abuse groups and counseling through OASIS and its Counseling and Psychological Services. Bloomington does as well.

But Daniels thinks a more specialized community is necessary.

“It’s for students that are in recovery and that are actively working to change their lives but also be successful students while sober, which can present its own challenges for our students,” Daniels said.

Daniels has wanted to create a recovery community since she arrived professionally at IU in 2010.

It’s personal for her.

She’s in recovery, and has been since she delayed her senior year at IU in the early 2000s to receive treatment after an overdose.

But, she didn’t have enough student involvement to create one yet, and wasn’t going to make something just for herself. She worked as a resource liaison for students seeking help until she found students to lead the program, and is now guiding them to create greater change for the IU community.

“I think the more we kind of create a space at IU for talking about recovery, and kind of promoting stigma reduction around addiction and dependence and recovery, then I think it’s just going to become a safer place for students as they figure out what’s going on with them,” Daniels said. “Or, even for students in recovery outside of Bloomington who really want to come to IU, I think they’ll feel welcome too.”

Daniels says OASIS already goes out of its way not to judge students who come in for counseling whether they come through the student ethics office after a policy violation or self-refer. Self-referrals add up to 10% of the students OASIS sees.

According to Martin this type of non-judgmental counseling is the only way to go.

“Working with people with substance abuse, it’s hard, because you can’t really tell them what to do,” she said. “You have to like subtly suggest things and just kind of pray that they will find a solution, or listen, or see that there is another way out. But, it can take a long time.”

Along this line Daniels is asking for a little more leniency from those at IU with disciplinary power.

She says expelling students, effectively casting them aside at their most vulnerable moment, isn’t the right course of action.

Not only does this action negatively affect the student, but Daniels says this takes away the school’s ability to benefit from the student’s talents and tuition money.

It bothers Martin, who sees it as misplaced hubris.

“I personally don’t feel like they care,” Martin said. “I feel like they try to hold up this elitist standard, or this, this doesn’t happen on my campus type thing. Or, hey you know it’s just college experimenting.”

At this moment Desmond thinks the university’s priorities are elsewhere, but believes it will need to get behind the issue eventually.

“If you can sweep overdose deaths underneath the rug, I think they’ve kind of done that for a while,” he said. “There’s been plenty of people who’ve overdosed this past year, killed themselves, and could possibly be due to drug addiction, depression, mental illness as a whole. I think that a lot of those things just get swept under the rug. There’s lots of people that die, students that die every year. It’s something that needs to stop, not to say that we are going to start this CRC and start saving the world, but you know doing the best we can and hopefully the university catches on and gets behind us.”

According to Daniels, IU Dean of Students Harold Goldsmith has been very supportive of the group’s efforts so far. In the next few years Daniels, Desmond and Martin hope Students in Recovery Bloomington will have a broader impact on campus. For now, they’ll settle on helping any student who comes their way.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before we can really start taking off in a way, hopefully saving some lives,” Martin said.

Students in Recovery Bloomington will be at orientation resource fairs this summer in the event incoming students are looking for information about IU’s recovery resources.

Dr. Rob Stone on the Future of the Affordable Care Act


Last week the Supreme Court upheld a part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The Court ruled it is legal for the federal government to offer subsidies to help people purchase health insurance. The decision was widely praised by supporters of the health care law. Yesterday, Joe Crawford sat down with Doctor Rob Stone, the founder of Hoosiers for a Common Sense Health Plan. We bring you a portion of that conversation for today’s WFHB community report.

The Vast Influence of Indiana University’s Collins Living Learning Center


To any Indiana University outsider, the Collins Residence Center is just like any other residence hall. However the residence hall made the news last year when transgender actress and former IU student Laverne Cox said she switched from another dormitory to Collins Living and Learning Center for a more welcoming atmosphere. WFHB wanted to find out what makes Collins different than other residence halls on campus, and how that influences students who stay there. Correspondent Kara Tullman spoke with two former Collins residents as well as the residence hall director for today’s WFHB community report.

SCOTUS Overturns Power Plant Polution Regulations


Today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an environmental rule meant to reduce pollution from power plants. News Director Joe Crawford spoke with Hoosier Environmental Council Director Jesse Kharbanda about how the ruling could affect Indiana. We bring you that conversation for today’s WFHB community report.

IU Student Connects With Great-Grandfather Through Poetry


It’s rare to have an opportunity to explore the life of a family member you’ve never met. But IU student Joe Weber had a rare opportunity to do just that through an unusual medium: poetry. He brings us this story, which comes courtesy of a partnership with American Student Radio.

CDC Releases Teen Birth Rate Data


Teen birth rates have reached an all-time low according to data released last week from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014 data shows that teen birth rates have fallen eight percent from 2013. Although these teen birth rates are lower than in the past, teen pregnancy is still an issue in the United States.  According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Indiana ranks twentieth out of fifty states and the District of Columbia, for the highest teen birth rates, with one being the highest birth rate and fifty-one being the lowest.

The US still has no federal law that requires public schools to teach sexual education. This leaves the decision up to states and individual school districts to decide what to teach their students. Correspondent Ivy Bridges investigated Indiana’s approach to sexual education, and how local schools have dealt with the policies for today’s WFHB community report.

Local Resident Offers Perspective on Proprosed Rezoning Plans


The company, Hoosier Energy, has found itself in conflict with neighbors in a rural community north of Bloomington. Last year the electric utilities and services provider moved out of its headquarters at Ellis Road and State Road 37. Now the company wants to sell the land. It has an offer from Weddle Brothers Construction, but in order to sell the property, Hoosier Energy needs to change from public zoning to private zoning. Hoosier Energy has now petitioned to rezone the land from rural residential to heavy industrial use to accommodate the sale. However, the land is as close to 100 feet away from residential neighborhood housing that will be affected by the change. Correspondent Kara Tullman spoke with neighbor Larry Barber to get a local resident’s perspective.

Bloomingfoods Responds to New Business Climate


Issues at Bloomington’s cooperative grocery chain have increasingly been making local headlines in recent months. Earlier this year, the original Bloomingfoods location on Kirkwood Avenue closed indefinitely. In April, a group of co-op members petitioned for a financial audit of the organization, which they said was having money troubles. Then, earlier this month, General Manager George Huntington resigned. Eighteen middle level managers have also been laid off. Last week the co-op announced a 20 percent decrease in overall coop sales and there is talk of lower level staff cuts. On Friday, WFHB correspondent Kara Tullman spoke with the President of the Bloomingfoods Board of Directors, Caroline (care-o-line) Beebe (BEE-BEE). We bring you that conversation for today’s WFHB community report.

An Afternoon of Direct Animation this Saturday


The local experimental media group, Burroughs Century Limited, is hosting an Afternoon of Direct Animation this Saturday. The event invites participants to draw designs onto sixteen millimeter film, and then see their art projected as a motion picture film. The event is free, however donations will help pay for the group’s Wounded Galaxy festival, taking place in October. The 5-day festival will bring guest lectures, film screenings, music shows, and more, hosted in venues throughout town. The festival will showcase local and visiting artists. Correspondent Kara Tullman spoke with IU Professor Joan Hawkins to get a greater understanding of the festival and the Burroughs Century Group.

Senator Coats Criticizes Defense Contractors In His Waste of the Week Speech


This week the United States Senate is debating a proposed six-hundred-twelve-billion-dollar budget for the Department of Defense. Speaking before the Senate today, Senator Dan Coats of Indiana took on one particular section of the military budget as he gave his regular Waste of the Week speech. Coats criticized wasteful defense contractors, particularly one company that has recently been accused of misspending millions of dollars in Afghanistan. Coats does not mention the contractor  by name. But a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction indicates the alleged violator is the Imperatis Corporation, based in Arlington, Virginia. As of 2012, the company had more than a billion dollars worth of contracts with the American military. We bring you a portion of Coats’ speech now, in this WFHB report.

That was U.S. Senator Dan Coats of Indiana speaking today on the Senate floor. Coats has announced he will retire at the end of his term in 2016. Several Republicans and Democrats have already begun to campaign for the position.

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