Recovery can be hard.
Especially as a young adult when alcohol is put on the VIP guest list to most social gatherings. An even more difficult environment to obtain and maintain sobriety in is at college.
With fraternities, sororities, bar crawls, keg parties, peer pressure, an introduction to experimentation with new substances, independence from parents, and the Adderall epidemic, making a commitment to a sober lifestyle can seem impossible.
In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that approximately 25% of college students encounter academic difficulties as a result of drinking. They also indicated that 599,000 unintentional injuries occur as the result of alcohol use and that there are 1,825 alcohol-related deaths that occur each year on college campuses. CASA Columbia concluded that about half of college students binge drink or abuse drugs based on a study conducted at Columbia University.
It is becoming clear that the drinking problem at the college campus level is becoming a problem.
There is a Solution
So, this is clearly a serious issue. Fortunately, something is being done about it.
We are now starting to see what are called Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP) slowly pop up on campuses across the country. The purpose of these communities is to educate and provide support and access to valuable resources to college students who are in recovery or seeking recovery while they are enrolled in school. Since they are living in such a high-risk environment the benefits from this are insurmountable.
More and more young people are finding their way into recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. College is by nature a high-risk environment for a recovering student to relapse. This should not be the case.
The most important aspect of college is education. The CRP movement is making huge progress to give support, fellowship and resources to students who may have otherwise gone without.
Standards of the Programs
The Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE), formed by a number of colleges to tackle this task has developed the following set of standards that these CRPs are expected to meet. Each program must:
- support the abstinence based model of recovery
- be affiliated with an institution of higher education
- remain a non-profit organization
- provide the support of trained professionals in recovery
- provide a place for the formation of a Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC)
CRPs are also encouraged to offer auxiliary services for other difficulties that often co-occur with addiction issues. These include a variety of behavioral and process addictions, as well as mental health issues.
The Community Aspect
One of the greatest outcomes of these programs is the community that develops as a result. Regarding the importance of the community to the program’s success the ARHE states:
Recovering students are at the core of a thriving CRP. Peer support and community are crucial in supporting students who are in recovery, normalizing recovery and fighting stigma.
They couldn’t be more accurate. Recovery can seem boring compared to Greek life, sober students may feel like they are missing out or isolating. What these communities do is provide them with a safe environment where they are able to meet and support one another. Some campuses are even offering sober housing for students to reside in. These communities offer activities for members to participate in including:
- 12-step meetings
- academic courses
- gender-specific events
- health and wellness activities
7th Annual Collegiate Recovery Conference
The ARHE is holding their next annual conference April 6-8 of 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the main purposes of these conferences is so that professionals, students and faculty have the opportunity to learn more about the communities, how to develop them, provide support and further promote recovery in higher education. Moreover, it gives student members another opportunity to connect with one another on a broader scale.
This is an amazing initiative. CRPs are offering a service that could not only benefit, but possibly save the lives of individuals who have the disease of addiction. Now college students are beginning to have a place to go where they can feel accepted, safe and empowered. A life of recovery offers truly incredible things, not only to individuals but to the community. This is one of them.
How Can You Get Involved?
While the Collegiate Recovery movement has been growing, there is still lots of work to be done.
One of the biggest problems is the lack of continuity between different school systems and organizations. The national dynamic of CRP’s is complicated and there is no national standard. Some colleges are private school, others are public with state funding. Some have big budgets and some have small budgets. The goal is to be able to create some kind of national standard or template so that colleges who wish to create a CRP have the means and guidance to do so.
For instance, one of the most well known and reputable Collegiate Recovery Programs is in Ohio State. Their program is well established, organized and is a separate entity from the health and wellness center. They provide housing, on-campus meetings and events.
Compare that to the recovery community at Temple University, and you will notice drastic differences. Temple has a CRP that is integrated within their health and wellness program and it provides much less resources than other programs.
This is where the change must come.
To get involved, you should contact the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. Also, Young People in Recovery is an amazing organization that works closely with college and on campus organizations.
Every day, more and more young people find themselves dropping out of college because of a drug or alcohol addiction. We hope to build an informative section of the site designated specifically to college students and their recovery.