6 Oct 2017 Digital

Is Your Rehab Facility Reaching this Underserved Population?

Yasmeen Garcia
Yasmeen Garcia
Public Relations Assistant

At Recovery Brands, we’re always looking for new and creative ways to educate people about substance abuse and connect with individuals who are in need of treatment. Identifying underserved populations is critical to our mission to eliminate stigma and serve individuals who are truly in need of life-saving services.

Most recently, we identified a true need for addiction treatment resources and education among college-aged adults. Nearly 22 percent of young adults aged 18 to 21 meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, yet most college campuses lack proper support and resources to combat the problem.

To put a dent in mitigating this issue, we designed an educational program for universities to place on their student-facing websites. We piloted the project with Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and created a college addiction guide with information on campus drug use, substance use policies, and local resources for MTSU students.

So what does this mean for treatment providers? There’s significant opportunity to connect with college students, and digital marketing can be the center point of your efforts.

Illustrating the Need: The Issue of Substance Use Among College Students

If you’ve been to college or have seen popular media depictions of college life, you know university campuses are prime targets for drug abuse. Research indicates that more than one-third of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 engaged in binge drinking in the past month and 1 in 5 used an illicit substance. Additionally, roughly 67 percent of former and current college students reported using prescription stimulants – also known as “study drugs” – for reasons including studying, staying awake, and recreational use.

Though drug abuse is prevalent among college-aged adults, seeking addiction treatment poses its own challenges. A recent Vice article sheds light on the lack of support and proper resources for college students who are in recovery or currently struggling with a substance use disorder. Many students are forced to decide between school or treatment.

Now, collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) – on-campus support groups designed to help college students engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance abuse – are stepping up with over 80 CRPs available on university campuses nationwide.

While CRPs are stepping in to improve on-campus support, the addiction treatment industry still seems to be falling short in connecting college students to treatment. Is your facility doing enough to support them?

Three Tips for Connecting with College Students

1. Do your research
Are there any universities or community colleges within close proximity to your facility?  If so, what addiction treatment resources, if any, does each campus offer its students?

After you’ve done your research, determine how your facility can create or immerse itself into the resources and programs already available. Some examples include:

  • Partner with the university’s drug and alcohol prevention programs or substance abuse counseling center to educate students about addiction treatment and provide digital and printed material about your treatment facility.
  • Create a tailored addiction treatment guide for a local university that includes detailed information specific to the University. While our site, offers a general overview about drug use and treatment for college students as a whole, creating a guide specific to MTSU ensured students could receive information and resources relevant to them.

2. Utilize social media to connect with college students near your facility
Although many treatment providers are skeptical about investing resources into social media, doing so is essential to reach college-aged adults. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 90 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 are active on social media.

If you really want to help college students discover your treatment services, this form of communication is critical for fostering brand loyalty and trust. It also gives your facility a platform to facilitate meaningful conversations about addiction and recovery and present your knowledge.

3. Get involved in your local college’s campus activities
We know social media plays a vital role in how consumers perceive your brand and what it stands for, but face-to-face interactions should not be forgotten. Connect with local university representatives to:

  • Attend on-campus events such as new student orientation or welcome week to humanize your facility and personalize interactions with students. You might consider handing out printed materials detailing information about substance abuse and your services. This will position your facility as a thought leader and local resource for students.
  • Join forces with the university’s CRP if they have one. Transitioning into college puts many young adults in recovery at risk of relapse. However, 95 percent of students who participate in recovery communities and programs throughout college maintain their sobriety. You can be an ally in their continued sobriety ,and you’ll be recognized as a trustworthy provider for students in recovery to refer their friends.

College students are a vulnerable population under exceeding pressure to “do it all.” By putting these tips into practice, your rehab facility has the potential to educate and connect with students in need, share thought leadership, and most importantly, help those in the throes of addiction find treatment.

Interested in learning more about our partnership with MTSU? Click here to explore our resources designed for college students.

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