Jean Marie Place

Professor Jean Marie Place is among faculty lending expertise to the new coalition. “It’s something I care deeply about because these people matter.”

In 2019, Associate Professor of Health Science Jean Marie Place joined a small group of faculty and staff to discuss how the University could play a more effective role in addressing the problem of addiction.

Place and others pointed out that there were many worthwhile prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in the area, “but we were all sort of doing our own things. There wasn’t a lot of talking to each other about our various projects.”

From this realization, the Addictions Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) was born. Launched in July 2020, ACDC represents a growing, strategic, community–academic partnership.

More than 25 public health groups, businesses, and government agencies are represented. Its members share ideas and combine efforts on a variety of projects—from safe syringe access to rehabilitation and work-training for those in recovery.

The coalition also serves as an example of the segment of Goal 4 of the strategic plan that encourages faculty to engage in and connect their scholarship with the surrounding community in ways that can be replicated in other communities.

Place, whose research includes maternal opioid-use disorder, sees ACDC as an opportunity for faculty “to share our expertise and experiences”—one she hopes will grow to become a model for similar community partnerships.

ACDC directors and co-founders Dane Minnick and Jonel Thaller—assistant and associate professors of Social Work, respectively—have done extensive research in their respective areas of addiction and recovery.

“Learning about social work from a text is different than when you’re face-to-face,” Thaller said. “Having this opportunity for students to see what’s happening in real time in their community is really valuable in the learning process.”

To give even more students such opportunities, Minnick is developing an Immersive Learning course based on ACDC activities that he plans to launch this Fall.

It’s one example, he says, of how ACDC “has given me an avenue to use my professional skills to improve conditions in the local community while still operating in my role as a teacher and researcher at Ball State.”

For Minnick and all ACDC backers, the biggest reward remains helping people recover from addiction and rejoin with their communities and families.

“It’s something I care deeply about,” Place said, “because these people matter.”

Learn more about Destination 2040: Our Flight Path and progress already being made across the University and beyond.