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Life of Purpose Treatment Published In Oxford Journals

Life of Purpose Treatment Published In Oxford Journals

Our Founder and CEO, Andrew Burki, MSW, was recently published in the Oxford Journals as a co-author on a research paper that explores substance use disorder, academic disruption, and treatment.

The paper titled, “Academic Disruption and Substance Use Disorders: University-Based Treatment Facilities“, was authored by Patricia Stoddard-Dare, PhD, MSW, Andrew Burki, MSW, andLea Anne DeRigne, PhD, MSW, who is the lead author. Published in the Health and Social Work Journal by the National Association of Social Workers, the study takes an in-depth look at the university-based treatment model, Life of Purpose Treatment, and program outcomes.

Scroll below to read highlights of the study.

Academic Disruption and Substance Use Disorders: University-Based Treatment Facilities

Young people are often challenged to navigate the complex relationship that exists between educational attainment and substance misuse. Indeed, an interesting contradiction exists in the usefulness of college in mitigating substance use disorders. Although, college attendance is an important predictor of future financial success and general well-being, the high prevalence of drug and alcohol use on college and university campuses makes college attendance a risk factor for developing substance use disorders (Hingson, Zha, & Weitzman, 2009). Accordingly, college campuses have been identified as “abstinence hostile environments” (Cleveland, Harris, & Wiebe, 2010). Indeed, the highest rates of illicit drug use and alcohol use disorders (including binge drinking and heavy alcohol use) occur in young adults ages 18 to 25 years, the life stage when college is most likely to occur (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2013). Correspondingly, in 2007, 21.1 percent of young adults (6.9 million people) needed treatment for alcohol- or drug-related problems (SAMHSA, 2008).

Model of a University-Based Treatment Facility

A new academically focused substance use disorder treatment center, Life of Purpose Treatment (LOP), opened on the campus of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in June 2013. LOP is a privately funded facility that leases space on the FAU campus but receives no university funding. LOP offers a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and transitional housing near campus for program alumni. LOP is the first residential treatment center to be housed on a college campus in the United States.

Social Work Services

At LOP, social workers are employed as primary clinicians, case managers, behavioral technicians, and clinical outreach coordinators. Primary clinicians conduct individual, group, and family therapy sessions, lead team meetings, and track the progress of each client. Academically focused case managers engage in a variety of unique tasks, including assisting students to improve their existing transcripts through academic petitions and medical withdrawals in an effort to replace failing grades with withdraw notations. Academic case managers (who all have a BSW degree and are often in pursuit of an MSW degree) also help students apply for admission or readmission to colleges and universities. During their time with LOP, many clients transfer from community colleges to four-year universities, and case managers assist with transcript requests and transfer of credits. After enrollment in college is achieved, case managers facilitate accommodations for students with disabilities, assist with course scheduling and registration, schedule tutors and exams, facilitate test preparation, monitor assignments and grades, and promote retention and advancement toward a degree. Academic progress and performance are used as treatment outcome indicators in addition to the standard measurement of the number of days abstinent from substance use. Finally, for students who have successfully completed at least one semester of college, academically focused case managers help clients apply for financial aid and scholarships.

Preliminary Results

Agency records reveal that in the two years LOP has been open, approximately 170 young people have matriculated through the program. Among those clients, 112 have enrolled in college, 13 have completed GEDs, three have graduated from college, and two have graduated from high school. Attrition from the program is low at 10 percent, with most attriters being transferred to facilities offering a higher level of care to address complex needs such as eating disorders or profound psychiatric disability.

Future Directions

The focus on substance abuse treatment and recovery on college campuses is a growing trend with the creation of sober dormitories, collegiate recovery communities, and student life activities focused on sober living emerging in many localities across the United States. Given its success, LOP is set to launch a second facility at the University of North Texas–Denton this year and has plans for several additional locations.

Read the full paper here.

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