ETSU’s Action Changes Things program began last semester to give students a safe, confidential environment where they can learn to change struggles and addictions in their lives.

Jesse Henderson, ETSU’s alcohol and other drug outreach coordinator, said the group setting that the ACT program offers can be very beneficial to students who are seeking to change self-destructive behaviors.

“We help students by providing a safe, confidential group atmosphere to gain support and education around changing a behavior they have identified as problematic, and many people find this type of group work more powerful and motivational than individual therapy,” Henderson said.

The ACT program helps students with a wide range of problematic behaviors. It’s not just for students struggling with substance abuse.

“ACT is made for students who are struggling with any type of behavior they find problematic which can include anything from overuse/over-consumption of drugs and alcohol, to procrastination and over-spending,” Henderson said.

Meetings are designed to teach students effective strategies for dealing with these behaviors so they can transform themselves into healthier, happier individuals.

“In our group, we help students learn how to cut back on their behavior, substitute it with something non-problematic, learn tools on how to resist urges and cravings, goal setting, find ways to build the motivation to change the behavior, learn how to carry out a healthy lifestyle, and more,” said Henderson.

The meetings, which are an hour and a half long, take place every Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 4A on the third floor of the D.P. Culp Center. Each meeting follows the same format which allows students to share their experiences, receive advice from peers and professionals, and de-stress in a judgement free environment.

“Each meeting follows this general agenda:  Introductions, time on the floor to talk about the behavior you are attending the meeting for (speaking is optional), tool building time where the group identifies something they would like help working on together (coping with urges, motivation building, harm reduction plans), goal setting, and a meditation to close,” Henderson said. The philosophy behind the program simply seeks to help students reach their desired goals, not goals set by the facilitators.

“We do not take a stance on what the student should or shouldn’t be doing, nor do we believe that the student needs to have a goal of abstinence. We are simply here to offer support and education around changing the behavior, if that’s what the student wants,” Henderson said.

Since the program just began last semester, attendance has been low, but Henderson believes that makes it the perfect time for students to come check it out.

“If you’re even sort of interested in seeing what ACT is about, come to one meeting,” Henderson said. “You do not have to come every week, but this is a good time to come check us out.”