Danger in the Land of Booze, Dope, and Pills
There is a growing trend on our nation’s college campuses: programs to support students who’ve completed treatment for substance-abuse and are committed to a healthy recovery. Can they do both? Succeed at an academic program and, at the same time, have a real but alcohol/drug-free college experience? If you’re at all familiar with university life, you are well aware of the pervasive substance-abuse problems on most campuses and of the expectation on the part of nearly all their peers that students drink alcohol. So what is someone in recovery to do?
College-Bound and In Recovery
The truth is that many prospective college students (or dropouts/stopouts) with a substance-use disorder and a desire to maintain a life of sobriety are opting not to return to campus—or not to begin a college program. In the past, this decision has probably been a wise one, as the traditional college culture would be a serious threat to their recovery. But that’s where the collegiate recovery programs come in.
Naturally, there are very different features among the recovery programs at post-secondary institutions, but, in general, they offer a supportive environment allowing members to live together in one wing of a dormitory or in a house on campus, a community of peers working together toward similar goals, and a plan of positive activities, meetings, and social events that do not include alcohol and drugs. Some programs include counseling services, courses in relapse prevention, and/or community service. There are also scholarships available, at some schools, for students who maintain sobriety and a high grade point average.
Since it’s a relatively new concept (the first programs emerging approximately ten years ago), there are no long-term studies yet on the effectiveness of these communities in terms of graduation rate, relapse rate, etc. However, short-term examinations of how students at the various recovery programs are doing have indicated that the outlook is good. And the oldest running program in recovery (Texas Tech) boasts the following 10-year results for member students: an average cumulative GPA of 3.34, an 80% annual graduation rate, and a relapse rate of just 6%.
It is believed by professionals in the fields of health, psychology, education, and sociology that helping these students who are committed to recovery to continue their education in a safe environment will benefit society at least as much as it does the individuals.
If you needed to enroll in a college program but were trying to recover from substance-abuse, could you manage both? If you had a child in that predicament, would the knowledge that a campus recovery program and supportive community exist provide you some relief?