Colleges Improve Efforts To Accommodate Students In Recovery

By Victoria Kim 08/24/18

Around 300 schools offer recovery support services in the US.

pair of students walking on a college campus

As the demand rises for student recovery services, some colleges are making a real effort to provide a sober-friendly environment for students who choose to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

“Students shouldn’t have to choose between their recovery and their education,” said Alexandre Laudet, a researcher at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.

Roughly 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Illicit drug use is rising as well, according to 2016 data.

According to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, some 300 schools offer recovery support services in the US.

Some features of college recovery programs include addiction counseling, support groups, community check-ins, on-campus 12-step meetings, and service work opportunities, Yes Magazine reports.

Substance-free social activities are a popular feature of these programs; ensuring that sober students don’t miss out on the fun.

Some colleges offer sober bowling, canoeing, laser tag, hiking, movies. The University of Houston’s recovery program includes a mountain climbing trip, and the University of Oregon organizes sober watch parties for sports fans.

These programs will often have applicants sign a code of conduct, promising to “abstain from all substances, adhere to safe behaviors, and hold other members of the community accountable,” according to Yes.

The results of a survey published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment showed the many positive outcomes of college recovery programs—including low relapse rates, higher-than-average GPAs, and a higher likelihood that students will stay in school and graduate.

According to the survey, up to 95% of participating students were able to sustain their sobriety while attending school.

“It was the life preserver I needed when I was drowning. I feel like I’m supported there,” said one engineering student at the University of Michigan. “There are people who would do anything to help me and know how to help me. It’s a safe space for us no matter what’s happening in our lives.”

One college recovery program of note is the one at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Its recovery housing program was established in 1988, one of the first of its kind. It is among the more established college recovery programs in the country, alongside Texas Tech and Augsburg University.

The state of New Jersey has gone farther to promote recovery support in higher education; in 2015 the state legislature passed a law requiring four-year public colleges and universities to provide recovery housing.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr