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Collegiate Recovery Programs

What is Recovery and Why Do We Need It?


Recovery starts well before sobriety. The actual use is a well-intended, misdirected effort to secure sustainable relief.  It just looks like selfishness and ends up horribly damaging, convincing people they need more pain. However, people empowered to identify as being in recovery end up doing just that, engaging in “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” (SAMHSA’s working definition of Recovery, 2011).

The Need for Recovery Programs on College Campuses

Attending college is one of the most stressful periods of transition in a person’s life. Younger students often leave their homes and attempt to live independently for the first time in their lives. Nontraditional or returning students are faced with the challenge of balancing work, family and scholarly responsibilities.

Other stressors related to college put students at an increased risk for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. These risks jeopardize the ability of a student in recovery to remain sober.To make matters worse, college life in the United States is often characterized by late nights, binge drinking and experimenting with drugs. The culture and accepting or expecting alcohol and drug use on college campuses often threatens the well-being of students in recovery.

Many students believe they have to drink alcohol or use drugs to fit in, and alcohol and other drugs are often easily accessible.  In some cases, parents, faculty and staff contribute to such expectations by referencing their own college experiences or encouraging risky behaviors.Despite a culture of tolerance towards alcohol and drug abuse, recovery from alcohol or other drug addiction is often stigmatized.  It isn’t uncommon for a student, faculty or staff member to demean students in recovery with insensitive or judgmental language.

This stigma makes it difficult for students in recovery to openly express their status in recovery, a key component of building a support system and accessing recovery resources. When students in recovery have weak support systems and don’t feel like they can be honest with peers, college can become a lonely place.All of these factors make college campuses risky environments for students in recovery. That’s why recovering students should find a safe and supportive community

Dimensions of Recovery

  • Health – Abstaining from substances of abuse and making healthy choices
  • Home – Having a safe place to live
  • Purpose – Participating in meaningful daily activities
  • Community – Having healthy relationships and social support

College Students in Recovery: Campus Challenges

Many college peers are engaging in alcohol and other drug experimentation while students in recovery.

Recovery is not the simple act of stopping the use of any/all substances, it is actually:

  • Recovering that person they were before they ever used any substance
  • Recovering their mental health, goals, dreams, direction and confidence
  • Letting go /working through feelings of anger, fear, hurt and shame
  • Taking back the control in your life

Daily, sometimes hourly work will be done to maintain abstinence while restructuring their daily lives:

  • Working through feelings often connected to other behaviors or triggers to which they have no control over.
  • Balancing the daily demands of recovery, academics, work and socialization
  • Making new friends and finding a sense of belonging
  • And learning how to maintain abstinence

Five Benefits of a College Recovery Program (According to those who have been through it)

  1. A recovery community – recovering students emphasize how important it was to have access to other students in recovery. They felt relief from isolation and safe with peers.
  2. Support from program staff – recovering students enjoyed the environment of equality that staff members created and the on-call availability of the staff.
  3. On-campus meetings – most students had involvement in 12-step programs before college, so the easy availability of on-campus support group meetings was beneficial.
  4. Academic support – students expressed ease of working with advisors who understood their needs and enjoyed access to these trained advisors.
  5. A place to hang out – students expressed a sense of safety and stability from the program’s physical location for recovering students to hang out on campus.

May we introduce to you… The Roadrunner Collegiate Recovery Program commencing in Fall 2019! To learn more click on the logo.