Virginia Union University Receives $50,000 Grant for Substance Abuse Program

UNCF-member institution Virginia Union University (VUU) and the Department of Counseling Services have been awarded a $50,000 grant to develop a Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP), which will assist students in the process of recovering from substance-abuse disorders. The award was presented by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam during a special event that was held Wednesday, Oct. 30. The CRP, entitled, “Panthers in Recovery” is a collaborative partnership with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in response to the opioid crisis that has devastated the country over the past several years. Panthers in Recovery will surround students with a supportive network as they grow through the recovery process.

“Virginia Union is committed to the empowering and uplifting of our students and the community,” said Dr. Hakim Lucas, president and CEO, Virginia Union University, “we want to provide a safe space for students to get all their health needs met, which is why our medical services are continuously expanding and Panthers in Recovery is evidence of that.”

The state of Virginia endured a major impact by the opioid crisis with it peaking in 2017. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 1,241 deaths occur related to opioid overdose. This equates to 14.8 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. In addition to opioids, the threat of synthetic opioid rose adding to the destruction.

Drugs like Fentanyl created the greatest increase among deaths involving synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioid deaths increased from 89 reported deaths in 2012 to 829 deaths in 2017. Heroin involved deaths also increased during that same five-year period, from 121 to 556 reported deaths.

The Panthers in Recovery program will be headed by VUU’s Director of Counseling Services, Dr. Shanita S. Brown. Dr. Brown has a doctoral degree in counseling and counselor education from North Carolina State University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor and Approved Clinical Supervisor. Dr. Brown has authorized scholarly publications and professional presentations related to her expertise.

“A Collegiate Recovery Program is provided specifically for university students to have a safe, judgement free, supportive environment to be dedicated to them in order to help them obtain their degree and also sustain recovery,” said Dr. Brown

A portion of the grant will go toward bringing a new member to the VUU family. This individual will specialize in the areas of substance abuse, support and recovery. This specialist will serve as educator and collect data on the specific types of abuse disorders we see in VUU specifically and the surrounding area. The grant will also assist in providing the best resources available to sustain recovery while students continue to heal and flourish both personally and academically.

In addition to Virginia Union, eight additional colleges and universities received grant money toward combating the opioid crisis. Each university selected will geologically cover the areas hardest hit by the crisis while empowering and educating their students.

In conjunction with VCU Rams in Recovery, VUU will offer a CRP Ally Training program. The conjoined programs will offer training for all faculty and staff members to understand signs of substance abuse, the language, the recovery process and the best way to become allies for students in need of recovery.

Dr. Brown was invited and represented Virginia Union University at the Governor’s Mansion this morning along with the other grant recipients.