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Promoting Student-Athlete Wellness and Substance Abuse Prevention

Referral & Counseling

Referral & Counseling Guiding Principles

Departmental policies specify the criteria for referral to treatment for ATOD concerns and the procedural issues associated with referral including timeliness, confidentiality and expected follow-up.  Counseling resources include a range of modalities.  Services are accessible and scheduling is compatible with class, practice, athletics training and game and travel schedules, so that students can be seen in a timely fashion. Collegial relationship development between athletics and counseling staff contributes to a process that is sensitive to the unique athletics culture and required protocols of counseling and confidentiality.

Evidence-Based Strategies to Address Referral & Counseling

The College Alcohol Intervention Matrix (CollegeAIM)  was created by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to help schools select evidence-based programs for substance misuse prevention. Interventions listed below are rated by higher, moderate or lower effectiveness or there is mixed evidence/too few studies to rate effectiveness.  As you develop your action plan, first consider the items below. 

Higher effectiveness

Moderate effectiveness

Programs developed by past APPLE attendees:

Division I

Athlete Guidance and Support - University of California, Davis

  • AGS is a student-run mental health resource group within UC Davis Athletics. They focus on on events and outreach and have developed a system to help student-athletes connect with mental health resources.

Health and Wellness Captains - University of Pennsylvanie

  • After the 2019 APPLE, a team of Penn Athletics staff and student-athletes created a student-athlete led, peer-to-peer network of student-athletes who are passionate about health and wellness topics.

Student-Athlete Campfires - University of Virginia

  • UVA SAMs created a monthly series of "campfire" meetings to allow small groups of student-athletes to talk about mental health issues in an open, honest environment with their peers.  The goal is to break the stigma of mental health stuggles so student-athletes feel supported by their peers. 

Safe Harbor Program - Illinois State University

  • Documents include the drug testing policy, specific sanctions, information on the Safe Harbour program and signature forms. Safe Harbor is a self-referral program for student-athletes with a substance use disorder. The 30 day program exempts students from University drug testing, but not NCAA testing. Students cannot self-refer less than 30 days before NCAA post-season play.

Counseling Policy (p. 13) - Virginia Tech

  • Counseling is mandatory for any student-athlete who tests positive. The counselor determines when to terminate counseling, and missed sessions are reported to the substance abuse committee (SAC).

Division II

Safe Harbor (p. 37) - University of Mount Olive

  • Student-athletes can seek help for a substance use disorder through the Safe Harbor program. Students retain their athletics aid and are not suspended from the team unless medically necessary, Safe harbor counts as a first positive drug test.

Division III

Drug Education & Testing Program - Springfield College

  • The policy describes the purpose of procedures for drug testing. There is a detailed description of the Safe Harbour program for students who self-refer for a substance use disorder.