Rogers State University Named Recipient of $200,000 HEPS Grant to Combat Substance Abuse

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Rogers State University has been named the recipient of a $200,000 Higher Education Prevention Services (HEPS) grant through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The grant is designed to provide education regarding drug abuse to RSU students, faculty and staff, and to address suicide awareness and education.

According to Rogers State University Director of Student Conduct and Development Jeana Rae Conn, the OKDMHSAS partners with universities across the state to facilitate funding for programs to educate and prevent prescription drug misuse.

“The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services reached out to us a couple of months ago, based on some of the work we had already been doing in the area of drug awareness and prevention,” Conn said. “The week before spring break (2023), we held several activities to promote drug and alcohol awareness and safety, and they caught a segment covering this on one of the Tulsa media outlets.

“From that, they contacted us to find out more about our drug awareness programs, activities, etc., and asked if we would be interested in partnering with them over the next two years to help our efforts of providing education about and prevention of opioids and prescription stimulant abuse at RSU,” she said. “Because of this partnership, the university became the recipient of a grant in the amount of $200,000 – $100,000 a year – to help broaden and fund the work we were already doing.”

This grant will make possible the hiring of a part-time trained contractor to host educational programs, to conduct drug awareness workshops, and to help the university combat potential opioid and prescription stimulant abuse.

Further, the contractor will coordinate services with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services funded prevention and treatment service providers, as well as local educational agencies.

“Although the full duties and title of this position are still being finalized, we’re expecting to have someone hired in the fall semester, and who will be on staff for the duration of the contract period – it’s a one-year contract through June 30, 2024, with the position being reviewable for the next year – 2024-25 – contingent on their performance and availability of funding,” she said.

In addition to the $200,000 grant to help combat illegal opioid and stimulant abuse, the university also received a $5,000 grant to help supplement its work for suicide prevention and awareness.

“We’ve already received the grant and must meet several benchmarks over the two-year duration, so we’re already in the process of moving forward in the hiring of the new position it will help fund,” Conn said. “We’re very excited about this grant and all it’s going to allow us to accomplish, all the people it’s going to allow us to educate about the risk of opioid and stimulant misuse, all the people we’re going to be able to help.”

Any Rogers State University student or staff member who has a drug or alcohol-related problem is encouraged to call upon the university for assistance. Anyone needing help may contact the Office of Counseling Services in the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center at 918-343-7845.

The counseling staff can provide a confidential referral to a drug or alcohol treatment program.

Persons struggling with suicidal thoughts are encouraged to contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.