This summer, I will be interning at FCD Prevention Works located in Newton, MA. FCD stands for Freedom from Chemical Dependency and it is a substance abuse prevention organization that has an international reach. Started as an independent non-profit, it has now merged with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which itself is a merger—the Hazelden Foundation and the Betty Ford Center—and operates addiction treatment centers across the United States. Although having slightly different missions and goals, these two organizations connected through their overarching desire to reduce the effects of substance abuse.
FCD accomplishes its mission of prevention and education largely through its classroom and school visits, where they interact with both students and the adults at the school and the surrounding community. Not only do they work with schools in the US, they also have a global reach, working mostly with American International Schools in different countries across the world. To teach these programs, FCD utilizes their Prevention Specialists, a group of individuals they find through interviews and who they personally train. These Prevention Specialists are also required to have gone through some sort of addiction and be in healthy recovery so they are able to teach using personal experience and stories. A recent Today Show, segment on addiction featured FCD Prevention Specialists in the classroom and family members of one of the employees working in my office, whose family has a history of addiction. That seems to be one reason why FCD is so successful in what it does; because these individuals have gone through some type of addiction or personally know people who have, they know what it is like and can speak from personal experience about what addiction and substance abuse can do.
FCD also uses the social norms approach to encourage prevention of substance use. They attempt to show students that what they think is the “norm” in terms of alcohol and drug use may actually not be the case in order to dissuade them from use. They use data from surveys and assessments to try and give children and adults actual facts about usage, which many of the students they talk to actually find very useful and interesting.
This summer I will be working at FCD’s administrative office that does much of the behind the scenes work so that everything runs smoothly when the Prevention Specialists are out working with the clients.
There are four main departments—Client Relations, Administrative Services, Surveys and Program Services—with about one or two people in each. The plan for me this summer is to hopefully be able to assist in each department. The first half of my internship will be working with Administration and Client Relations. I have been helping HR with organizing and making employee personnel files and cataloging what each file has on a spreadsheet. I have also been updating some of the educational documents they use and emailing clients back student survey answers after they have completed the program, which hopefully shows schools how useful and engaging these programs are. I have also sat in on one of their administrative team meetings to see how everyone collaborates on projects. Later in the summer, I should also be working on the surveys and some data analysis in order to create some handouts and learn more about how clients view FCD. I may also be working on their social media platforms and some research to contribute to their training curriculum.
As an HSSP major, I hope to learn more about addiction and the public health issues that surround this topic. It is a contentious issue that inspires political action (Joe Kennedy III once participated in a FCD program when he was in school and is now a huge supporter of mental health reform) and being part of an organization that has such a deep connection to this will hopefully provide me with a better understanding of the complexities surround it.
I also hope to learn more about what non-profits are like and gain more hands-on experience with health administration as well as apply the skills I have learned in my HSSP classes to real world problems and assignments. Finally, I want to practice my communication skills, both in writing and speaking because I do think these are things I need to work on and improve upon before I leave school and go out into the real world. I am so excited that I have been given this opportunity to intern at an organization with so much influence across the globe and with individuals who are so fiercely passionate. Hopefully I will learn more about addiction and gain some experience while helping this organization further their mission and goal.