Skip to main content.

Dr. Nancy Leffert Champions Antioch University’s Role in Fight Against Substance Abuse

Fellowship Story Showcase

Dr. Nancy Leffert Champions Antioch University’s Role in Fight Against Substance Abuse

Picture of Bill Macfadyen

This article was written by Noozhawk Intern Tim Fucci as part of Day 12 in Noozhawk's 12-day, six-week special investigative series. Related links are below.

The Noozhawk's Prescription for Abuse series is a special project exploring the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in Santa Barbara County. Our series is a result of an exciting and unique partnership with USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which awarded Noozhawk a California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship to undertake this important work.

Through our reporting and presentation, we will establish an independent baseline of where our community is with respect to the misuse and abuse of prescription medications; how the problem is affecting health care, education, law enforcement, criminal justice, addiction and treatment, and our culture and society; what we as a community can do to educate ourselves about prevention and controls; and how we can perhaps reverse what appears to be a very troubling trend.

Noozhawk staff writers Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli are the lead reporters on the project, and they've been assisted by managing editor Michelle Nelson; reporters Alex Kacik and Sonia Fernandez; interns Kristin Crosier, Jessica Ferguson, Tim Fucci, Kristen Gowdy, Jessica Haro, Daniel Langhorne, Alexa Shapiro, Sam Skopp, Erin Stone and Sarah Webb; photographers Garrett Geyer and Nick St.Oegger; content producer Cliff Redding; and Web development staffers Will Macfadyen and Edgar Oliveira.

Ashley Almada, Garrett Geyer, Hailey Sestak and Billy Spencer of the Santa Barbara Teen News Network filmed more than two dozen public-service videos featuring many of our story sources.

The project is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation in partnership with KEYT, sbTNN and Zona Seca. The Annenberg School is assisted by the Renaissance Journalism Center at San Francisco State University.


Day One:

» Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

» After Losing It All, Former Drug Addict Looking Forward to Renewed Life

» USC, California Endowment Unite to Support Health Journalism at the Source

» Bill Macfadyen: Prescription for Abuse Project Is a Series of Opportunities

Day Two:

» Local, National Statistics Reveal Alarming Jumps in Misuse and Abuse of Medications

» Marijuana Use Trends Higher, Especially Among Young Adults, Sparking Public Health Concerns

» Alcohol Plays a Role All Its Own in Setting the Stage for Local Abuse, Overdoses

Day Three:

» Understanding Addiction Key to Dealing With Prescription Drug Abuse

» Donna Genera Has Seen the Price and Perils of Drug Addiction from All Sides

» Rich Detty Bears Burden of Not Knowing Extent of Dead Son's Drug Use

Day Four:

» Escalation of Drug Overdose Deaths Includes Increased Presence of Prescription Medications

» Santa Barbara Teen News Network Adds Another Dimension to Prescription Drug Abuse Series

» Dr. Chris Lambert Sounds Warning on Mixing Prescription Drugs with Alcohol

Day Five:

» Local Oversight of Prescription Medications Is Far More Focused Than State, Federal Controls

» Elderly Are Particularly Vulnerable to Both Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs

» Second-Generation Pharmacist Peter Caldwell Fills a Vital Role with Patient Health Care

Day Six:

» Early Education for Parents and Youth Emerges as Critical Tactic to Thwart Drug Use

» Student Highs Can Lead to Tragic Woes with Addiction's Hook Just One Fateful Step Away

» From an Early Age, Shereen Khatapoush Saw the Horrors of Substance Abuse

» As a Parent Herself, Prosecutor Von Nguyen Brings Empathy to Job in Juvenile Justice

Day Seven:

» Law Enforcement Fights Battle Against Prescription Drug Abuse from Outside and Inside

» Sheriff Bill Brown a Strong Supporter of Re-Entry, Drug Abuse Treatment Efforts

» Speaking from Experience, Zona Seca's Kevin Smith Keeps Drug Abusers on Road to Recovery

Day Eight:

» Prescription Drug System Is Rife with Loopholes, Fraud and Lack of Oversight

» For Clinical Psychologist Neil Rocklin, Addiction Education Can't Begin Soon Enough

Day Nine:

» Drug Abuse Treatment Programs, Expertise Are Plentiful on South Coast

» Dr. David Agnew Sees Pain as Pathway to Abuse But Cautions Against Overreaction

Day Ten:

» Awareness, Disposal Key Elements to Reversing Tide of Prescription Drug Abuse

» Dr. Joe Blum Keeps Focus on His Veteran Patients Despite Health-Care System's Restraints

Day Eleven:

» Operation Medicine Cabinet Gets the Drop on Prescription Drug Disposal

» Lacey Johnson Gives UCSB Students an Education in Dealing with Drug Abuse and Addiction

Day Twelve:

» Santa Barbara County Officials Look for Solutions in Battle Against Prescription Drug Abuse

» Noozhawk Journalists Recount Lessons Learned from Prescription Drug Abuse Series

» Annenberg Fellowships Take a Diverse Approach to Community Health Journalism

» Dr. Nancy Leffert Champions Antioch University's Role in Fight Against Substance Abuse

» Professionals Working in Addiction Field Often Share Roots at Antioch University Santa Barbara

Psychologist says school is committed to leading community dialogue on challenges, solutions
Monday, October 17, 2011

Name: Dr. Nancy Leffert

Location: Santa Barbara

Role: Psychologist and educator

Addressing an issue as complex as prescription drug abuse among elderly adults starts with educating the public.

Dr. Nancy Leffert, president and CEO of Antioch University Santa Barbara, has dedicated the majority of her 40-year career to providing the community with the tools necessary to combat drug abuse — among all age groups.

With Leffert at the helm, Antioch recently initiated a Healthy Aging concentration in its Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program. The objective is to tackle issues plaguing Santa Barbara’s elderly community, such as the misuse of prescription medications.

“It’s an example of Antioch’s response to a relevant community need,” said Leffert, who holds a doctorate in child and adolescent psychology and was installed as Antioch Santa Barbara’s president in February. “We have a growing older population and there is nowhere in between San Francisco and Long Beach where there is training to help work with this population.”

With the Healthy Aging program, Antioch officials hope to not only counsel elderly adults individually but to assist and train those working with the elderly population, like caregivers, physicians and families.

“It’s a different skills set because you are having to deal with different sectors of the community,” Leffert told Noozhawk. “I saw this as a multiprong approach to aging.”

According to Leffert, older adults often aren’t receiving the proper treatment they need with prescription drugs. This is where Antioch is stepping in.

“It’s easy to prescribe the wrong amounts of medicine for them,” Leffert explained. “There are physiology changes, their biochemistry in their brain changes. I’m not a physician but physicians need special training to know how to prescribe to older people.”

Leffert said she and her colleagues are deeply concerned over older adults being taken advantage of.

“I have heard of older adults selling their drugs or not taking them to get money because they are on limited means,” said Leffert. “They are given pain medicine and someone in the neighborhood asks if they can buy it from them for a certain price. I’m not saying older people are drug dealers but people prey on them, and then they aren’t getting what they need.”

Antioch has just moved its campus to a higher-profile location in Anacota Plaza on the corner of Anacapa and Cota streets in downtown Santa Barbara. Leffert said she is hopeful that Antioch will also be more visible in the larger discussion of substance abuse in the Santa Barbara community.

“As an educational institution we need to participate in the community dialogue,” she said. “I want us to be a location where these things can be discussed, where we can have panel discussions and intellectual discussions. So I’m hoping that we will play a bigger role in the future and be a part of that dialogue.”

— Noozhawk intern Tim Fucci can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect withNoozhawk on Facebook.