Parents of college-aged individuals dealing with substance addiction or substance abuse disorders may find that the arrival of fall and going back to school poses a unique set of challenges. For most college students, time spent in the library is equaled by time spent at a bar and as such it shouldn’t come as a shock when we say that students in recovery are faced with one relapse trigger after another. What may come as a surprise is that many colleges have their own College Recovery Communities (CRC). CRC’s are school-supported programs that allow recovering individuals to maintain their sobriety while being fully immersed in the college experience.
While exploring the idea of a CRC, the most important thing to be aware of is the distinction between a recovery dorm and a substance-free dorm. Most, if not all, college campuses offer substance-free dormitories much in the same way they offer gender specific housing. Substance-free dorms are simply a place for like-minded individuals to live, away from the social pressures a typical dorm has. Recovery dorms are dorms open only to those actively pursuing sobriety and are held to a more structured environment. These types of dorms are part of a larger College Recovery Program, which are designed to provide the supportive environment that a recovering addict needs but isn’t likely to find in college.
Schools like Rutgers and Texas Tech have paved the way in the College Recovery Community. Rutgers has fully established recovery dorms, where students have unique access to recovery counselors and participate in regular group meetings like NA and AA. Texas Tech has a meditation room and weekly seminars to encourage and educate about the recovery process. Both of these schools strongly encourage superior academic achievement; both schools offer merit-based scholarships, and Texas requires students applying to the program to maintain a 3.0 GPA.
CRC’s, like those at Rutgers and Texas Tech, manage to seamlessly merge the recovery process with the college experience. Students are given the support tools they need to navigate their sobriety and are made to feel like they fit in somewhere in that tumultuous environment that college can be for anyone dealing with substance abuse.
Check out some of the below considerations to take when exploring the idea of maintaining sobriety while in college:
- Decide if you need a fully developed Recovery Community or if a substance-free dorm will suit your needs.
- Before going back to school, reach out to your school’s health center and counseling resources. Every school has one and they’re specifically designed to address the unique needs of college-aged students.
- Take some time to research mental health resources unaffiliated with the school in the community. It’s always a good idea to a have a multi-faceted support system.
- Most importantly, consult with providers who know your history and can help make an informed decision about whether or not going to school is the right thing for you.