Support group brings students into the light
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 21:09
A new support group on campus is aiming to help former drug addicts with the recovery process and prevent others from falling into addiction.
Out of the Dark is a non-profit advocacy group located in Craighead County whose goal is to bring awareness to prescription drug addiction in the area. It was founded in September 2008 by Skip Mooney after noticing a major outbreak of heroin use among teenagers.
Mike Leatherwood, a board member for Out of the Dark, said there are school based programs in one-third of schools in the county. The ASU chapter is currently being formed and will be in full swing by January.
“We’re going to be working with the social work department to work on preventing addiction on campus,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood described the group as a community based model, and said research on drug addiction showed effective prevention only happens through community effort. In the high school chapters around the county, Out of the Dark has a sponsor, such as a teacher, that conducts meetings like an after school club.
The current focus of Out of the Dark is prevention.
“One of the biggest problems we battle in Out of the Dark with prevention is denial,” Leatherwood said. He added that many parents believe it can’t happen to their child or in their church.
“It’s happening everywhere,” he said.
Once the ASU chapter is completely established, the goal will be to address not only drug abuse, but alcoholism as well. Leatherwood said the organization is not opposed to those who are of age going out and drinking, but wants to teach them how to not abuse it. The chapter will include involvement from departments across the college, such as law enforcement officers in addition to the social work department.
“It takes those community groups to make it work,” Leatherwood said.
Justin Candler, a senior interdisciplinary studies major of Batesville, said he got involved with the organization after getting connected through a project in a communication course.
“We decided we wanted to create a scholarship (for recovering addicts),” Candler said.
Adrian Sellers, a senior history and communications major of Jonesboro, is another member of the group who said Out of the Dark will be doing fundraising to set up an endowment fund for the Back on Track Scholarship, which will be rewarded to those who had addictions and are trying to rebuild their lives.
“I was just trying to give back,” Sellers said of his involvement with the support group.
“I think everybody has some family member who’s struggled in some way,” Candler said. “You see drugs in every area of life.”
Candler said his hopes for the ASU chapter are to bring more awareness to campus about drug addiction as well as creating more chapters at other colleges.
“Skip has a vision that this won’t be the only county with chapters,” Candler said.
Out of the Dark will be hosting a concert Saturday to engage the faith-based community of Jonesboro and spread information about the group. Former drug addicts will be present to share their stories of addiction and recovery.
“The testimonies I think will be very powerful,” Leatherwood said.
The concert will be held at First United Methodist Church in Wesley Hall at 801 S. Main St. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 6 p.m.
For more information on Out of the Dark visit www.outofthedark.org, or contact Adrian Sellers at Adrian.firstname.lastname@example.org.