Substance use disorders have become an increasingly pressing physical and psychological health issue facing our nation. With college campuses acting as one of many places where high rates of substance use issues can be found, we felt the need to develop an understanding of how substance use affects memory, decision-making and motivation—especially among individuals in their late teens and early twenties, whose brains are still developing.

Substance use disorders can lead to learning and mental health difficulties, along with challenges to professional and academic success. Compounding this is the fact that substance use issues—and the behaviors that arise from them—are often thought of as conduct violations or signs of psychopathology. There's fairly little scholarship that approaches substance use as a developmental or behavioral issue that could be addressed through education.

If effective solutions are to be developed, substance use disorders need to receive greater attention in academic circles—and on college campuses—to ensure students are receiving the attention and services they need. To that end, we created a program that equips students with the knowledge and sensitivities necessary to help individuals facing challenges around substance use to take back control of their lives.