Charleston is Changing Recovery and Education.
For many years, addiction and recovery have remained taboo topics. Many times addicts would have to suffer in silence due to their families trying to keep the matter “hush-hush”, out of fear of being ostracized from their community. In the last twenty years or so, this standpoint has greatly changed, and families now more than ever are trying to actively find help for their loved one who is suffering from addiction. What is sad, however, is that most people struggling with addiction are getting younger and younger, with the average age of people struggling with heroin being only twenty-three years old. That being said, many of these people are school age, so one university has decided to take a stand of its own against the ugly face of addiction.
Battling Age- Old Stigma.
The College of Charleston has taken the initiative to commence a program available to students in recovery so that they might combine their strive for education to better their lives while also reaching for maintaining continuous sobriety. College is notoriously known as the time of experimentation and exploration of young adults across a variety of new frontiers, and more often than not, alcohol and drug use are depicted as a common frontier for these students. It is utterly refreshing to see that this school is offering a positive alternative to the basic college experience model so often propagated in film and the media. For students either new to recovery or student’s familiar with recovery and working on maintaining his or her sobriety, the College of Charleston’s new recovery program has offered them a place of solace and sanctuary, away from the pressures of indulgence. While hardly the first college or university to implement a recovery program into the curriculum, we had the opportunity to sit down with Wood Marchant and ask him first-hand questions about this newly implemented recovery program.
Meet the Man Behind the Scenes
Wood Marchant, an alumnus of the College of Charleston Class of 1989, has been named the head of the college’s new recovery program, Collegiate Recovery Program, or “CRP”. As the newly named director of CRP, Marchant bears the daunting task of implementing a direly necessary program and getting the word out to the not so typical audience, college age kids. Marchant’s journey started at The Medical University of South Carolina, where he held the title of clinical instructor at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs. After three years in this position, Mr. Marchant left to pursue another ambition: joining The College of Charleston in its efforts to promote a safe space for its students in recovery. After being in the planning stages for over a year, the College hired Wood Marchant in November of 2016 to found what is now known as the CRP, Collegiate Recovery Program and is bringing students in need on campus the resources and support necessary to find and keep sobriety in one of the most difficult demographics.
What is the Collegiate Recovery Program?
As our curiosity on the matter of college-based recovery programs was peaked, we were able to ask Wood Marchant first-hand all about the College of Charlestons recovery community. As the director of Collegiate Recovery Program, his job mainly entails working inside the Dean of Student’s office. His goal is to help students already in recovery maintain their sobriety while seeking higher education as well as getting the message of recovery out to all students around the school who might benefit from sobriety by marketing his new program. He wants to help his students grow as both members of society and members in recovery. As with any newly commenced program, some growing pains are to be expected. One of the main hurdles Marchant and CRP have faced is finding fresh faces apart from the students actively involved since the program’s inception. Getting the word out in such a challenging environment to promote recovery is no easy feat, but he and his students remain determined. Other schools in South Carolina like Clemson and the University of South Carolina (where Marchant received his Master in Social Work) are working on collegiate recovery initiatives as well, and, as the first collegiate recovery community in the state, the College of Charleston’s program hopes to be a model for those two schools to follow and build on.
First Hand Hope.
The first main event is held on Thursday afternoons; it is for people practicing abstinence-based recovery. The event integrates a classic 12-step style speaker meeting in which various speakers are featured each week and discuss his or her recovery and how his or her recovery is applied to his or her professional career. They speak on the challenges they face in their career as it relates to their recovery, while also providing guidance to the young students and their aspiring career paths.
Explaining the Inexplicable.
The second event provided for member each week is the Introduction to Recovery Meeting, held on Tuesday nights. This meeting was designed to welcome and inform attendees what recovery looks like in college realm. As stated by Marchant himself, “The goal would be for somebody to come into the meeting to ask questions about their substance use, be informed on what recovery is and what it takes, and eventually join the CRP.” To provide such vital information and support on the difficult topic of addiction to someone who may have never even been able to put a finger on what it is they’re been going through is completely priceless. When asked about any future events the CRP had to look forward to, Marchant stated a viewing was to be scheduled of the recovery movie “Generation Found”, a film about a recovery high school founded in Houston, Texas as a response to the opioid crisis in their community.
With addiction creeping out of the gutter and ever closer to our doorsteps, it is imperative we as a society begin to open our eyes to the true nature of addiction and begin to take the necessary steps to combat it on every possible front. Combining recovery and collegiate life is a huge step forward in both our understanding and acceptance of addiction. No longer can it be swept under the rug, or reckless addictive behavior may be chalked up to “college experimentation”. We must call it for what it is and urge our young people to seek help and support as soon as possible to prevent them from toiling for years in the struggle of active addiction. As stated by Wood Marchant himself when asked about the combination of recovery and college, and why it is so beneficial, “Now that these students are in recovery and they’re able to focus on their school work, they’re ready to focus on what’s next.” The sooner we reach our kids, the better.