Monday, January 16 , 2017, 11:59 pm | Fair 45º

 
 
 
 

Lacey Johnson Gives UCSB Students an Education in Dealing with Drug Abuse and Addiction

Counselor says rising anxiety levels, emergence of prescription medications add to risks students face

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is part of Day 11 in Noozhawk’s 12-day, six-week special investigative series, Prescription for Abuse. Related links are below.]

Name: Lacey Johnson

Location: UCSB

Role: Drug and alcohol counselor

For UCSB students seeking information and help with drugs, alcohol and addiction, Lacey Johnson is the go-to woman on campus. With a master’s degree specializing in family therapy, Johnson has served as a counselor with UCSB’s Alcohol & Drug Program for almost five years.

As drug and alcohol abuse has become an increasingly critical issue for students at UCSB, Johnson has played a vital role in maintaining the health and well-being of the student community.

“I’ve seen a rise in anxiety and stress levels are at an all time high,” Johnson told Noozhawk. “Students have a sense of expectation when they come to UCSB. They want to work hard and play hard, but they can’t do it all.”

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

And with this increase in anxiety and stress, Johnson said she has seen a rise in the use and mixture of powerful and dangerous substances among some students.

“I’ve heard some students say that it’s easier for them to get heroin or OxyContin out in Isla Vista than it is other substances,” said Johnson. “Acid has become popular again, too. It’s like the 1970s all over again. Students are very curious about it.”

With the prevalence of drug use in Isla Vista, Johnson and her colleagues provide necessary individual and group counseling for students in need. Along with campus-wide campaigns aimed at educating students about the warning signs of alcohol poisoning and drug overdose, the Alcohol & Drug Program offers counseling to students whose roommates, friends or family members may be suffering from substance abuse.

“Our approach philosophically is not an abstinence-only idea,” said Johnson. “We certainly don’t condone underage drinking or drug use, but we recognize that students will do that. We want to educate them. Students leave here appreciating the way the information is delivered, and many come back on their own.”

During her tenure with the UCSB program, Johnson has worked with students suffering from a wide range of addictions and dependencies.

“We have seen more and more students with different kinds of addictions outside of drugs and alcohol, like gambling, video games and Internet porn,” Johnson said. “Many times there are psychological issues that are driving their behavior. We help these students and refer them to other resources.”

Johnson cites her own college experience as the reason why she has chosen a career helping students with drugs, alcohol and addiction. As a member of the Greek community in college, Johnson witnessed alcohol and drug abuse firsthand, and had friends die from drug overdoses.

“For me it’s been a way for me to give back to those people,” she said.

But while a career helping students struggling with addiction has been incredibly rewarding, Johnson explained that it can bring an immense level of frustration, too.

“It’s taken years of practice to have appropriate boundaries and to realize I’m here to help students, but I can’t change things,” she said. “It’s a blessing and a curse to care so much. I have more success stories than the latter, but it can be very disappointing at times, and discouraging.

“But that’s the nature of working in the field of addiction. When someone is addicted to something, it’s a lifelong struggle.”

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk intern Tim Fucci can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

 

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk encourages free expression, regardless of viewpoint, but requires that such expressions be civil in tone, respectful of other commenters and relevant to the stories on which they are posted. We reserve the right to remove any comment for any reason.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree not to submit a comment that is abusive, defamatory, disrespectful, illegal, libelous, profane, vulgar or disparaging (whether on the basis of disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, traits with which people are born, or otherwise).

» Agree not to submit a comment that attacks or threatens another person, threatens or promotes violence, wishes for harm to befall another person, invades another person's privacy or proprietary rights, or uses expletives (including veiled profanity).

» Agree not to stalk or harass another person, dominate the conversation, discourage participation by others, or bait, belittle, bicker with, mock or taunt others.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

» Comments with spam or self-promotional links are not allowed. Comments that include links are automatically routed to a Pending queue. Regularly checking it is not a priority of ours.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >