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Students Raise Awareness about Addiction

The problem of addiction is getting attention from students at Tennessee Tech in the form of a potential new organization.

Students in sociology professor Lachelle Norris's social movements class decided this semester to focus on the problem of addiction, specifically opiate addiction.

"We wanted to raise awareness, that it's a problem," said student Olivia Gallagher. "That there's a place for people to go, that they're not alone in this."

They decided to form a group, Tennessee Tech Addiction Awareness, held an organizational meeting last month and were surprised by the interest.

About 25 showed up including members of the university's Student Government Association and pre-medical students.

"So we ended up moving forward, and they (students) typed up a constitution," Payne said.

The students also decided they wanted to take part in hosting an educational forum with the help of Nathan Payne, a teacher's assistant for the class who works for Lifeline. Payne initially approached Dr. Norris about focusing on addiction in her social movements class.

Addiction in the Upper Cumberland: A Community Discussion will be held Monday, Nov. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the auditorium of Tennessee Tech's Bell Hall. Featuring the WCTE-TV documentary Roadblocks to Recovery, the event will include a panel discussion with Payne, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commissioner Marie Williams and Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Faith Based Initiatives Director Monty Burks.

Payne said treatment resources will be available at the event.

Now the student group is asking to be officially recognized by the university as an official organization.

Norris said this may be first first time a student organization has grown out of a class she's taught in her 15 years at Tech, but students say they enjoy Norris's classes because of the opportunities to take part in projects that impact the real world.

"I chose this class because it was Dr. Norris," said Jesse Fanning. "The real world aspect, I like having that ability."

Payne said, "Dr. Norris does give you the opportunity to feel like you make a difference. You're not just taking a test. You're getting to do something."

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