COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE LIVING NEW LIVES IN RECOVERY ON CAMPUS

Pamela Clark, CADC II, ICADC

COLLEGE STUDENTS IN RECOVERY

As an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, Daniel Fred began to turn to alcohol and other drugs to cope with the pressures of school and the loss of his roommate to suicide. Despite his 1.7 GPA, stints in jail, and his inability to connect with his peers, he didn’t see his drinking as a problem but he knew he was struggling. After his second year, Daniel was kicked out of the university and moved to Texas to try a new lifestyle.

In Texas, after two weeks of sobriety, Daniel’s grandparents arranged for him to meet with the program director of Texas Tech University’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. In order to be considered for admittance into the program, he was asked to commit to attending recovery support meetings for a semester.

Daniel walked into his first meeting imagining the cultural stigma of people in recovery. He was surprised by how “normal” the students looked that attended these meetings and found a welcoming, supportive environment, new friends, and a new and exciting life in sobriety. He was accepted into Texas Tech University’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery program the following semester.

There is a growing movement for recovery support on college campuses. Students who participate in collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) have higher GPAs and higher graduation rates than the overall student population, not to mention lower rates of return to use compared to their fellow students in recovery who aren’t part of a collegiate recovery program.

CRPs like the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery at Texas Tech offer students in recovery a “home base” where they have access to the necessary resources to support their recovery while in school. They have the opportunity to connect with other sober students, attend fun activities, and 12-step or other recovery meetings. Some offer sober housing and each recovery community is unique to its campus culture.

In 1990, there were only a handful of collegiate recovery programs nationwide. By 2010, there were still less than 40, out of the 4,000+ four-year universities throughout the country. So, in 2013, the non-profit Transforming Youth Recovery (TYR) was formed with the goal of funding the creation of 100 new programs.

To date, TYR has provided over $1,000,000.00 in grant funds to universities in 46 of the 50 states. In addition to financial aid, TYR provides technical assistance and support to the staff and students that are building collegiate recovery programs through resource sharing and facilitating collaboration among their network. Because of this, collegiate recovery programs are underway at small, mid-sized, and large flagship institutions including the University of Michigan, UCLA, Oregon State University, the University of North Texas, George Washington University, and over 100 others.

As a result of these efforts, we are already seeing young people getting into recovery earlier, and we are helping their universities transform to provide the ongoing supportive communities students need to live new lives in recovery. We are creating environments that will support these students to graduate sober and achieve long, healthy, productive lives. The changes this current generation
will experience as a result of our dedicated efforts will continue
to impact a legacy of hope, breaking cycles of addiction for generations to come.

Daniel Fred says that in our addiction we adjust our dreams to fit our use. Living a lifestyle of recovery allowed his dreams to grow and get bigger and better. After graduating from Texas Tech, he returned to UNR as a graduate student and helped begin their collegiate recovery program, the Nevada’s Recovery and Prevention community (N-RAP), which is now considered one of the top five CRP’s in the nation. Daniel graduated, became a college professor, was awarded best faculty of the year 2015-16, and went on in 2016 to join the Transforming Youth Recovery team in his role as the Director of Recovery Programs and National Outreach.

Now that they are wrapping up their first collegiate recovery grant program, TYR is embarking on several new exciting initiatives to further support people of all ages impacted by addiction. These include a 13 year longitudinal study of an entire school district for all 64,000 Pre K-12 students, a collegiate grant program for community colleges, and a family and life skills initiative. Our interactive Community Asset Map (tyr.capacitype.com) allows recovery community organizations, recovery high schools, collegiate recovery programs and other recovery support services and treatment programs to upload their assets, so people can find the resources they need when navigating the recovery landscape.

Currently there are over 160 colleges in the U.S. that have recovery support programs on their campuses. For information on future grant opportunities please visit our website at

www.transformingyouthrecovery.org.
Transforming Youth Recovery is a 501(c)3 nonprofit investing in the future of our youth and adolescents in bringing research, programs and awareness to the disease of addiction and transforming the pathway to new solutions for a lifetime of recovery. Our mission is to provide solutions for those impacted by the disease of addiction.