Haven replaces Health Promotion and Prevention to provide substance abuse assessments

Flyers in The Haven at College's outpatient center on 200 Boston Ave. are pictured on Sept. 19. Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily

The Haven at College, a program that works with college students to treat substance abuse disorders and mental health issues, opened a facility at Tufts two weeks ago. Through this program, students at Tufts can receive treatment while continuing their education, Director of Health Education Ian Wong told the Daily. 

Prior to the opening of The Haven at College’s program at Tufts, students struggling with substance abuse disorders would have to either seek treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, which could not guarantee openings, or would have to leave Tufts. 

“The important thing about The Haven was that students would be told to leave Tufts previously. Now we can tell students to stay here and we can tell them we’ll make sure you get better,” Wong said.

There are multiple processes by which students can receive treatment from The Haven. Any students found guilty of alcohol violations get sent to The Haven for a screening, Wong said. 

Larry Berger, the clinical director of The Haven Outpatient Center, said in a phone interview with the Daily that the screening involves questions about the student’s substance use history.

From the screening, The Haven generates a report with recommendations for how the administration should handle the student, but is not involved in the administration’s final decision on what disciplinary action to take, according to The Haven’s National Director for University Relations Sophie Pyne.  

Chris Rossi, the dean of student life and engagement, said that before The Haven came to Tufts, Health Promotion and Prevention would provide a similar screening.

“A student may be asked to complete a screening with The Haven in certain situations when they have violated university policy regarding alcohol or drugs,” Rossi said in an email to the Daily. “This step is taken so that they can get a professional assessment of their risk for substance abuse and any actions they can take to address any identified concerns.”

Berger said The Haven works with multiple departments, notably the Office of Residential Life and Learning and the Dean of Student Affairs Office, depending on where, when and what infractions occurred.

Students may have treatment options recommended to them as a result of the screening, but no treatment is mandatory, according to Executive Director of Health and Wellness Michelle Bowdler

“Mandatory treatment for anything is not considered a best practice. If you make someone seek treatment, it’s less likely that it will be effective,” Bowdler said. 

Both Rossi and Wong confirmed that treatment is not mandatory upon referral to The Haven. 

“There is no requirement from Tufts that a student must complete a certain education or treatment program unless a professional clinician has recommended it after an individualized assessment,” Rossi said.

Students can also voluntarily seek out treatment from The Haven, according to BowdlerThe Haven includes a residential component as well as an inpatient treatment facility.

“Students in recovery can live with other students in recovery,” Wong said. “That’s important because a lot of times they need the support of each other.”

Bowdler clarified that the house is specifically for people in recovery.

“The house is specifically for people who are working on their sobriety. I think there is room for six or seven beds, and I think we currently have four or five of them occupied. We had interest right away,” Bowdler said.  

Other college students in the Boston area are able to use the treatment options that The Haven offers, Bowdler said. 

“Any college student in the area who wants somebody to talk to can go see them. It is specific for college students but not just for Tufts students,” Bowdler said. 

According to Pyne, The Haven is a private company that started at the University of Southern California with the goal of helping students recover and reintegrate into schools in the wake of substance abuse.

“In collaboration with the university that we partner with, such as Tufts, we provide on-campus and off-campus care and supports for students who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders so they can really remain engaged in a successful and safe college experience,” she said. 

Pyne said that The Haven spreads to universities through word of mouth. According to Pyne, after a conference, Bowdler approached The Haven’s CEO Sharon Weber to see how Tufts could incorporate The Haven’s programs. Pyne told the Daily that there are no financial transactions between The Haven and Tufts. 

Wong emphasized the administration’s desire to help students recovering from substance abuse. 

“We’re really trying to create a robust program to support our students, and The Haven gives us an opportunity to do that. We provide programs to help students get better,” Wong said.