As a clinical psychologist who has worked in the addiction treatment field since 1976, and as a professor in a program that trains addiction counselors, I had several reactions to the Aug. 13 stories and editorial about substance use by Cal Poly athletes.
First: Of course there is a substance use problem among college athletes everywhere, and it is about time the university community emerged from denial about it. Second: I found it curious that only illegal substances were mentioned, since the most widely used recreational intoxicant is alcohol. Third: Why such punitive language? To “crack down,” as your editorial suggests, will do nothing to change athletes’ substance-use behavior other than to drive it underground.
To offer education about substance use to athletes only after they have committed an “offense” implies education about this subject is a punishment. The reality is that use of alcohol and other drugs is a very dangerous activity, especially for young adults, and it can lead to dire, even deadly, health, interpersonal and legal consequences. Cal Poly should provide quality education to every athlete — and every student — about this reality in an open, objective, intelligent and nonjudgmental manner.