Temple implements opioid task force recommendations

The university will likely not implement on-campus housing for students with substance use disorder.

Since Temple’s Opioid Task Force delivered its recommendations to President Richard Englert last year, the university has hired an alcohol and drug prevention coordinator and is not implementing on-campus recovery housing at this time. 

Across the state, 4,413 people died last year due to opioid use, 1,118 of them from Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The task force, established in May 2018, was designed to collect data and assess addiction among Temple students. It made its final recommendations on Dec. 20, 2018.

Creating on-campus recovery housing, which was proposed by the task force, is likely not going to be implemented, said task force members Jerry Stahler, a professor of geography and urban studies, and Dean of Students Stephanie Ives.

Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and Drexel University offer recovery housing for students, and in 2017, Temple’s Parliament passed a resolution to explore implementing recovery housing on campus. 

Ives said the community asking for recovery housing is “incredibly small.”

But Stahler said the initiative is “much more complicated.” 

 “Does it make sense?” Stahler asked. “Would it be better to have a floor or separate house for those in recovery? Do the students want others to know that they are recovering?”

The university has also promoted its Collegiate Recovery Program, a student-led space those in recovery, Ives said. It has also promoted the use of Suboxone, a medication that blocks opioid craving, which Student Health Services can prescribe.

Per the task force’s recommendations, Vicky Nucci is now Temple’s alcohol and drug prevention coordinator in the Wellness Resource Center. She declined to comment. 

“You need someone who can really understand the nature of the disease, and to be in between the student’s family and the university and will advocate for the student,” Stahler added. “Maybe through working out residential treatment and helping them finish the semester remotely, or helping the student through the process of returning to school.”

“This disease of addiction is silent,” he added. “It’s so important that we support students in recovery, provide a safe and helpful environment and help them succeed.”

The university is also focusing on other forms of substance abuse, like alcoholism, Ives said.

“There are students living with substance use disorder connected with alcohol, or even marijuana, other pills or other substances,” Ives said. “We wanted to make sure that we took a very broad and comprehensive look at substance use disorder as a whole and recovery effort broadly.”  

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