MHC’s alcohol program was among the first

The ADAP anniversary features Anita Devlin, whose memoir, “S.O.B.E.R.*,” stands for “son of a bitch, everything’s real,” which is how she felt helping her son navigate his addiction, eventually leading to his recovery and that of the entire family.

By Sasha Nyary 

With the founding of its Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program in 1977, Mount Holyoke College became one of the first colleges in the country with a comprehensive college alcohol program specifically designed for women. 

The program, known as ADAP, began with a $2,000 grant from the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation and was run under the guidance of Dr. Alice Shaner, then the College physician at the Pattie Groves Health Center. 

Today, Mount Holyoke continues to be at the forefront of comprehensive substance use prevention programs that speak to women’s issues. ADAP provides free confidential counseling and information to students who are concerned about their or a friend’s drinking or use of other drugs, or about drug or alcohol use in their family. 

ADAP’s 40 years will be celebrated with a reading by Anita Devlin from her memoir, “S.O.B.E.R.*,” and will also include a Q & A, resource table and book-signing. The event is slated for Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium and the Odyssey Bookshop will be on hand to sell books. 

“Celebrating ADAP’s 40th anniversary is an opportunity not only to educate and remind the campus community of the resources we provide, but also demonstrate the importance of awareness and support for those impacted by substance use,” said Jennifer Balut of Health Services and the director of ADAP. “Events like these help the Mount Holyoke community foster a nurturing, affirming environment in which individuals impacted can find the support they may need to thrive.” 

Earlier that day, Devlin will be the speaker at the weekly Interfaith Lunch, hosted by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The lunch is from noon to 1 p.m. and will be held in Eliot House. 

Devlin co-wrote “S.O.B.E.R.*” with her son, Michael Devlin Jr., about his addiction and recovery. The book puts a human face on addiction, which Anita Devlin calls a family disease: The whole family needs to be in recovery and therapy in order for everyone to heal.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Anita Devlin to campus,” Balut said. “Stories such as Anita’s are a voice that starts the conversation, which then empowers a community to stand together. Addiction is still often misunderstood. That misunderstanding fosters stigma, which prevents people from seeking help and stagnates hope and recovery.” 

One in three families are affected by substance use disorders and addiction, she noted, adding that addiction has no boundaries — its impact reaches far beyond just the person using. To that end, ADAP provides comprehensive services that encompass not only prevention and education efforts, but equally provides support, counseling and treatment to a wide student demographic. 

“We hope our students — and the entire campus community — will gain a deeper understanding of the ways that drugs and alcohol impacts all of our lives,” Balut said, “whether they choose to use them or not.” 

Also as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, ADAP will be hosting Narcan training. The public is invited to learn to identify signs of opioid overdose and participants will be given a free Narcan kit. The training is on Monday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Health Center conference room and is co-sponsored with Hampshire Hope, a regional coalition addressing the rise in heroin and prescription opioid use. 

Finally, an exhibit of the history of ADAP, “Celebrating 40 years of awareness, support and recovery,” will be held in the library atrium through Oct. 13. 

All events are free and open to the public. 

Call to Action. Visit.