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Promoting Student-Athlete Wellness and Substance Abuse Prevention

Referral & Counseling

Referral & Counseling Guiding Principles

The athletics department has department-wide, written policies that specify the criteria for referrals to counseling or other appropriate services for substance misuse concerns. Procedures are designed to reduce stigma and ensure timeliness, confidentiality, and appropriate follow-up with referring sources. Scheduling is compatible with class, practice, athletics training, and competition schedules. Counseling resources employ a range of evidence-informed modalities, including recovery from substance use disorders, and are provided and/or supervised by clinicians with training in substance misuse and athletics issues.

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

Program information coming soon!

    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.