British Columbia

UBC's student society approves creating service to help students with addictions

The service will help students struggling with alcohol, substance use and technology addiction. The AMS already offers services such as a food bank, a safe walk program and a peer-support program called Speakeasy.

The service will help students struggling with alcohol, substance use and technology addiction

The Alma Mater Society, the student society of UBC, has approved creating a service that will be designed to help students who are struggling with issues around technology use and addiction, alcohol and substance use. (iStock)

The student society at the University of B.C. has approved the creation of a new service for students to help those who are having problems with alcohol, substance use and technology use.

Hussam Zbeeb, the student services manager for the AMS, said the service, named Vice, will see trained volunteers providing support for a range of issues students might have around these three areas, which he said have the highest rates of addiction for students on campuses across Canada.

However, Zbeeb said the service isn't just for those struggling with an addiction, but could even be for those who are just looking for information.

Maybe you're not even suffering from an addiction. Maybe your family member is. Maybe you want  to know what an addiction is in the first place," Zbeeb said.

"Any level on that spectrum — that's essentially the area of scope that Vice will be focusing on."

Zbeeb said that it was a UBC student who approached the society to suggest that they add such a service to their existing offerings.

AMS already offers a number of services

The AMS currently offers a number of student-run services, including a food bank, a sexual assault support centre, and Speakeasy, which provides peer support for students for a number of challenges they may be facing.

Zbeeb said the AMS conducted a feasibility study on whether or not this service is something the campus needs.

"The conclusion of that study was yes, a service like Vice to help students dealing with addictions is quite needed," he said.

"The gap is, essentially, there isn't really a key resource group on campus that deals solely with addictions head-on. The idea is that whenever students think of addictions on campus and where to turn to, we want Vice to be that place to turn to, which can then maybe refer people if needed.

"If people during the peer-support sessions do decide that they do need further, more professional counseling … then they can be referred to UBC Counselling [Services] or Vancouver Coastal Health [for example]."

Zbeeb said the AMS is spending the summer months preparing the service — hiring a coordinator, volunteers and testing the service before approving a pilot program for the fall.

"The goal is to work with groups on and off campus over the next couple of months to ensure that our service is relevant to students and is helpful to students and adds value to any available services rather than replicating any existing ones."

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