The pull of an addiction can lead those in its sphere to feel as though they have nowhere to turn. However, for Brock University students, an available resource is ready to help.
Students who are struggling with addiction to substances, gaming or gambling, or are concerned about someone in their life who is struggling, have access to complimentary on-campus support from Addictions Counsellor Tiffany Scriver.
The service, organized through the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre in partnership with Community Addictions Services of Niagara, aims to engage students struggling with an addiction or its effects by offering appointments in Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre every Wednesday and Thursday.
Scriver said addiction can prevent students from engaging in their studies and other aspects of university life.
“I think it moves them away from their priorities around their school work and can affect their time management and productivity,” she said. “It can also impact their choice to get involved in extra curriculars, leisure, varsity and volunteer activities, which can lead them to feel isolated.”
To help alleviate the effects of addiction, Scriver works individually with students to establish goals and develop self-care strategies such as using breathing techniques, emotion regulation and time management.
“We are very client-centred,” she said. “They are not mandated to be here, and we don’t work on a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, we support harm reduction within a continuum to help each student recognize why they are using something and how it is affecting their lives.”
Available supports are similar for students who have been affected by someone else’s substance use, gambling or gaming.
“It starts with a conversation about how they’ve been impacted, what’s going on and what they have tried to do to support their loved one, as well as take care of themselves,” said Scriver.
She also noted it can be challenging for students to recognize their own addiction within a university environment where certain activities are more common.
“The use of substances at the post-secondary level is a fairly normalized experience,” she said. “Societal influence is that there is a notion to party and have fun, and substance use is part of that culture, which can make it tougher to self-identify an addiction.”
Scriver offers a welcoming environment that teaches harm reduction through dialogue and reflection, which she says students excel at. To those who may be unsure about counselling, Scriver has a simple message.
“You are not alone. Your story is valid, worthy of being heard and change is possible. It starts with booking an appointment so that we can begin a conversation.”