Interview with Laura Place, Coordinator of Substance Use Intervention &Treatment

In this interview, we discuss key items with Laura Place. Laura is the Coordinator of Substance Use Intervention and Treatment at the University Health Center. Read more to learn  about how she supports student wellness, at UMD, her own tips for mental health wellness, and how to get in touch.
TTC: Thank you for agreeing to interview with us! To start with: in general, how does your position support the wellness of UMD students?
  • LP: People who use substances at some time in their life tend to do so for the first time around the age that a lot of students go to college. It’s easy to go overboard, whether it’s just one rough night, for a semester, or longer. Sometimes just talking through what’s happening and what is most important to you right now in your life can help you adjust your substance use in pursuit of the life you really want. All of our services are designed to help students do exactly that, as well as get support for related problems.
TTC: What are some of the specific services or programs that you offer to help students maintain their wellness or mental health?
  • LP: People probably know us best as the office that offers counseling and education for students who had some kind of problem or incident which came to the attention of resident life or student conduct. But we also offer confidential counseling to students concerned about their use and consultation for students concerned about a friend.
TTC: What drew you to this position and, specifically, to this area of work?
  • LP: During my first year insternship in my social work degree program, I discovered that I found I really enjoyed talking with people about their choices and challenges around substance use. I got to see the power of recovery to transform people’s lives and got a sense of how much simpler it can be for people to make changes earlier in life.
TTC: What one thing would you want students to know? It could be about your role, or about their own wellbeing.
  • LP: It is entirely possible to have a full, fun, satisfying college experience packed with memories you’ll never forget – without using drugs or alcohol. And since that’s possible, then aligning your substance use to fit with your personal, professional, and academic goals is also totally feasible.
TTC: What do you do to maintain your own mental health, balance, and comprehensive wellbeing?
  • LP: I find that we do so much in our lives that isn’t tangible, where we work and work and click a button to send a representation of hours of work off into the ether. I find it’s really restorative to spend time making physical things in my down time. So I knit, spin fiber, sew, embroider, cook and bake. And I also go to therapy myself; doing therapy with others has a way of stirring up stuff inside.
TTC: How can students access the services you and your office provide?
  • LP: Just call 301.314.8106 Monday through Friday between 830am and 500pm. Our staff can help you set up an appointment. Also, simply because you come for one appointment does not obligate you to come back, and we keep all of your information as confidential as possible. Exceptions to confidentiality are really rare and usually about emergencies.
TTC: Is there anything else you think students should know?
  • LP: If you think that your substance use might not be working out 100% for you, be sure to consider both what you get out of it and what you don’t like so much about it. If you want to make a change, be sure to do something else to help fill the needs that your use was addressing. This could be as simple as finding a new way to unwind after class instead of smoking, or other things to do for fun friday night.