Colleges Offer Recovery Support

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a growing trend on college campuses – the creation of recovery services that give students the personal, social and academic support they need to succeed in college while remaining sober.

These services target students who have gone through substance abuse treatment and feature:

  • recovery education courses
  • recreational activities
  • on-campus clubhouses

Some colleges and universities are even providing financial support for students in recovery who remain sober.

This new form of recovery support is a lifesaver for students like Aaron Weir, a junior majoring in business at Texas Tech University. Weir was expelled from high school and forced to leave home before getting sober at age 16. He now receives an annual scholarship of $3,000 for earning a high GPA while maintaining sobriety and has access to an on-campus center for sober students that provides study areas, pool tables and meeting space for support meetings.

Students are Exposed to Drugs Socially

Other students who are recovering from addiction seek institutions that are known for anti-drug and anti-drinking policies. Darien Kelly left two different universities in his freshman year because he couldn’t get away from drugs and alcohol. He’s found more success since enrolling at the College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Missouri that is included on a list of Stone-Cold Sober Schools compiled by the Princeton Review. The school has strict rules prohibiting drugs and alcohol use both on and off campus. Kelly is now more comfortable surrounded by other students who don’t do drugs or drink.

The fastest-growing group of people seeking substance abuse treatment in the U.S. is students aged 18-24. According to SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the rate of alcohol use is highest among young people aged 20-22. Within that group, the highest rate of consumption is among college students. When college students complete recovery treatment, they are often advised to take a leave of absence from school or to commute to classes from home in order to avoid the on-campus risks of substance abuse. Now there are more options for living on campus and receiving recovery support.

In addition to providing compassionate support for recovering students, on-campus recovery support programs make economic sense. College administrators have reported that substance abuse plays an important role in the 20% dropout rate for college freshman. Texas Tech has found that it can help pay for its Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery by retaining tuition revenue that would normally be lost when students leave school because of substance abuse issues.

The U.S. Education Department has released a report stating that in order to reach the Obama Administration’s goal of making the U.S. the top producer of college graduates by 2020, the pervasive substance abuse problems on college campuses must be addressed. A suggested solution for the academic, health and social problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse on campus is the establishment of more recovery support programs.

According to the report, students who are attempting to remain sober need support programs that will help prevent relapse. They also need focused academic support to help them attain success in education.