CADEC offers peer help for substance abuse issues, questions

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Trisha Seastrom, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, was affected by her brother's substance abuse, which motivated her to help others struggling with addiction. Photo credit: Dj Morris

Chico State’s Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center is on the quest to save lives by giving scholarships to students who are going through recovery from substance abuse addiction.

One of CADEC’s missions is to attract students to the university despite the notorious party reputation hanging over the campus, said Trisha Seastrom, program director and licensed drug and alcohol counselor.

The center implemented a peer talk program called Students Seeking Recovery last fall.

“We just got a grant to start a collegiate recovery center,” Seastrom said. “More and more colleges are creating them for students who have suffered alone and in silence.”

Seastrom has been a part of the center for two and a half years and has worked in the field for 19 years. Working at the center hits home for her because she lost her brother to acute alcoholism, she said.

“My family has a history of substance use and disorders,” Seastrom said. “My brother died when he was just 40 years old. His organs failed. His death is what drives me and is the reason why I am in the field.”

Her brother was a college professor and was loved by students, she said. His colleagues and students told her family they had no idea about his hardship.

“It is important to ask questions and be involved because people are suffering and we do not know,” Seastrom said. “We have to normalize the conversation so people can ask for help.”

No one wanted to talk about it, and Seastrom believes that is why she lost her brother, she said.

She wants the center to be a safe hangout place for students to have meetings every day. The recovery center is just one part of the organization, she said.

“We educate our students to reach out and teach others,” Seastrom said. “We cannot do what we do here without our student workers.”

Evan Thibeau, a senior psychology major and peer educator at the center for the last year, has been involved in drug and alcohol prevention education since he was 11 years old.

He made the decision to be drug free when he was 15 because his cousin was struggling with substance abuse, he said.

“My cousin’s intervention was an eye-opener for me,” Thibeau said. “When someone is struggling with substance abuse, it does not just affect them but their whole family.”

Thibeau loves working at the center because he feels that it is important for students to be able to seek help from their peers, he said. His main goal is to let students know that he is there for them.

“It can be hard and scary to go to a professional person,” Thibeau said. “They may feel like they’re forced to admit an issue. We want them to feel comfortable. There are about 15 students that work here.”

When Thibeau turned 21, he made the decision to drink responsibly. One of the main misconceptions about the center is that they are completely against using. However it is actually advocates for responsible drinking, he said.

CADEC is located in Student Services Center 180 and accepts anyone and everyone at Chico State.

“The center is a team effort,” Seastrom said. “I am only one part of a bigger team. The students have changed my life.”

DJ Morris can be reached at [email protected] or @djthejournalist on Twitter.