You wouldn’t think that college life and sobriety would mix. Many people might associate college with frat parties, keg stands and living a life of freedom. The regular party scene can make it difficult for young men and women in long-term recovery to “do college.”
Getting sober does not put nurf pads on the world, there are no “special privileges” for students in recovery. Maintaining recovery can be extra challenging for college students. A challenge that, thanks to a few dedicated professionals, is becoming easier to conquer.
Meet Jason Callis.
Jason is the Program Director of The University of Georgia’s Collegiate Recovery Community. Callis is a busy man, as he is also the Secretary of the Executive Board of ARHE (Association of Recovery in Higher Education). Callis knows his stuff when it comes to helping students in recovery navigate college sober. He himself had the privilege of participating in a collegiate recovery program at his alma mater. Thankfully, he is here to support the students at the University of Georgia and his work is setting the groundwork for collegiate recovery programs to come.
How did the Georgia CRC Get Its Start?
Georgia owes a debt of gratitude to the Fontaine family. Jack and Nancy Fontaine lost their son John Jr. who died in an alcohol-related car crash when he was 16 years old. The Fontaine family generously donated money to open The Fontaine Center which currently resides at the University of Georgia’s Health Center. The Fontaine Center’s mission is to provide a comprehensive range of evidence-based prevention, early intervention and recovery support services to the UGA community.
The CRC is part of the Fontaine center and is a recovery support program at the university where students can hang out, find support and study (a home base for many). The Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) opened in 2013.
The CRC offers weekly meetings where members can discuss recovery-oriented topics. This is a great way for students to receive support in their recovery and intellectual journey.
Peer to peer conversations helps students feel supported as well as part of a community. Individuals can relate with their friends who also struggle with the same tribulations, they know they are not alone. Weekly meetings help create accountability for members who might be struggling as well as members who would like to continue succeeding on their journey. This is a forum where one can share their scholarly and sober success.
What you can do as a member of the CRC.
There are two meetings per week. The Monday meeting is called “Seminar,” where members of the CRC can participate in fun sober activities. It is a night where members can escape the booze filled college party scene and have good, clean fun.
Once a month, students are invited to participate in activities like bowling, hiking, and even a hip local drum circle. Another Monday meeting allows for students to check-in with senior peers and discusses where they are at in a smaller more intimate setting. The other two Mondays of the month are topic driven classes, which members facetiously refer to as “adulting” classes.
Here, sober students participate in courses that range from time management, budgeting, resume work, cooking classes, and even art therapy.
The CRC also offers an in-house 12-step based meeting each Thursday. These meetings are not specifically associated with any certain 12-step fellowship. Think of these as meetings where addicts of all kinds can relate and discuss their issues and share their experience, strength, and hope. These meetings are very inclusive and all forms of recovery are welcome from AOD, eating disorders,
These meetings are very inclusive and all forms of recovery are welcome from AOD, eating disorders, sex and love, to self-harm, and alcohol and drug use. These meetings range from open discussion to speaker meetings. Callis describes these meetings as being “pretty amazing,” he has a hard time describing the emotional impact that they have had on the members. “We are packed on those evenings,” he states, “There’s standing room only at most of them,” These meetings are cool because other members of the Athens community (where the college is located) attend. These are open meetings. So if someone thinks they might have a problem, they are more than welcome to join.
The CRC also offers many other fun events. The Southeast Collegiate Recovery Community Retreat is an awesome fellowship event that occurs once a year. Students from the UGA CRC and the University of Alabama CRC collaborate for a fun recovery-oriented weekend. Here, sober students from eight Universities camp out and fellowship.
The CRC also participates in sober tailgates. The University of Florida v. UGA Tailgate is known as “the world’s largest cocktail party.” This game is regarded as the biggest party tailgate of the year. The CRC hosts a fun sober tailgate for those who want to attend without using drugs or alcohol. It is a safe environment for sober students where members can attend the game with the support of their fellows.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
I always thought college was a place for self-discovery. A place where young kids fresh out of high school could escape the grips of their parents to find out what and who they are.
When I started my recovery journey, I had this idea that every idea in my head of the future was going to be different. I thought everything would be a wild adventure. Little did I know that recovery gives me options to do so much more.
It allows me to become the person I always wanted to be, but my substance use disorder had prevented all of that. It’s support services like CRC’s that remind me that even in the slipperiest of places, we can be there for each other. With the right intentions, we can be anywhere. With the support of our fellows, we can do anything.
Contact the University of Georgia collegiate recovery community at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jason Callis at email@example.com.
View their website here https://www.uhs.uga.edu/crc/crc-intro.