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A new campus group called Managing Substances with Pride, which strives to assist LGBTQ students concerned with issues of substance abuse, will begin meeting next week.
The organization — which is led by UCSB Alcohol & Drug Program counselor Jennifer Taylor and Clinical and School Psychology counselor Alise Cogger — seeks to provide a secure, non-judgmental setting for LGBTQ students to address substance abuse matters while also providing education and mentorship for a healthier lifestyle. Managing Substances with Pride will begin meeting weekly, holding Tuesday meetings from 3 to 4 p.m. at Embarcadero Hall starting next week.
According to Taylor, the group aims to help individuals by encouraging them to examine the pros and cons behind their abuse.
“It is not an abstinence-based group, although some students may come in wanting to be supported in their recovery from drugs and alcohol and that’s fine too,”Taylor said.“But we really want students to be motivated to look into their substance use – to see what’s working and what’s not working so well and to help them make healthy changes.”
Danny Khuu, a fourth-year sociology major and LGBTQ studies minor, said students in the community who engage in substance abuse usually do so because of issues of emotional distress. “I see drug abuse used more often in the LGBTQ community as a form of self-medication
for depression and anxiety,” Khuu said. Taylor said societal prejudice is usually the cause of such distress, adding that such judgment can have a lasting negative impact on these students’ self-esteem. “There is a lot of discrimination that goes on,” Taylor said. “If that is going on here, it can be particularly difficult, especially if it has been experienced in the past.” Olivia Miller, a third-year English major and co-chair of the queer social group Fuqit, said the rehabilitative aspect of MSP is a breath of fresh air given the popular weekend activities of many UCSB students.
“I think that – especially at UCSB – a lot of off-campus activities are centered on drugs and alcohol,” Miller said. “The community should definitely try to make alternatives [so] having a group especially for counseling will be very productive.”
Khuu added that MSP will also effectively act as a safe haven for struggling students, providing these individuals with comfort and noncritical advice they may not be able to find elsewhere.
“There is no questioning if this is a legitimate space,” Khuu said. “Knowing that everyone is LGBTQ grants them that safe place. It is a ready acceptance that is necessary to break down their walls.”