Life of Purpose and Collegiate Recovery: A Seamless Match

The Life of Purpose treatment methodology offers academically-focused treatment to clients who have experienced an educational or vocational disruption as the result of substance use. College campuses have been termed “abstinence-hostile” environments due to the culture of substance abuse on campus. It is estimated that 22.9% of the 5.4 million college students in the U.S. meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

College campuses are often incorrectly viewed by the treatment industry as a referral source. Instead, the industry needs to look at higher education for what it really is – as the most logical extension of the true continuum of care. Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP’s) strive to create a campus-based, “recovery-friendly”‘ space and a supportive social community to enhance educational opportunities while supporting continued recovery and emotional growth. Consequently, each Life of Purpose client referred to an established CRP will have a support structure for the entire duration of his or her collegiate experience. The entire process can take up to four or five years if a student is entering college for the first time. The majority of the community support services are incorporated into the student’s tuition and are provided by the CRP’s themselves. This long term extended care is consequently much more economically viable for families then an endless cycle of treatment episodes. Ultimately, referring to CRP’s allows our clients to extend their participation in a continuing care program without having to postpone or surrender achieving their educational goals.

The primary goal of a CRP is to afford students in recovery a normative collegiate experience through the creation, implementation, and maintenance of peer-to-peer support services on campus. On-campus support structures range from student organizations to the implementation of programs on campus with dedicated housing, space, and staff.

Research conducted during the first collegiate recovery program survey revealed that students in recovery are performing at high levels in terms of retention and graduation rates as well as GPA. Service hours, and relapse rates were found to be in the single digits. A sample of 26 recovery programs indicated that 77% of all students chose their university specifically for the CRP. Conservative estimates suggest there are over 100 campus recovery efforts in place in the United States. 

As more and more colleges and universities announce the creation of their own collegiate recovery programming, Life of Purpose continues to partner with academic institutions nationwide. Given that Life of Purpose is the first and only treatment facility to open on a United States college campus, we have a duty to contribute to the growth of the collegiate recovery movement.

The feeling of pride and empowerment that comes with continuing school in early recovery is only one of the benefits to engaging in a collegiate recovery model. The draw for most students is the opportunity to be social without being surrounded by heavy alcohol and drug use. Our flagship location, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), hosts collegiate recovery events including Recovery Ready Tailgates.

We are thrilled to have opened our second set of doors in May of 2016. We are now open on the University of North Texas (UNT) campus. UNT boasts an active and thriving Collegiate Recovery Program, complete with daily meetings and recovery housing.

Two aspects of our programming which directly affect our student-clients are Academically Focused Aftercare™, and our transitional housing, Life in Progress. The first of these allows clients to maintain structure academically as they transition into their collegiate recovery community. Meeting with an academically-focused case manager and a therapist encourages clients to fully delve into their classes and into the perfectly normal roller-coaster that comes with adjusting to life in recovery on a college campus. Given that college dorms are not typically recovery-friendly atmosphere, Life of Purpose chose to open Life in Progress, a luxury student recovery housing location close to FAU, Palm Beach State College, and Lynn University. This living environment breeds solidarity and provides for built-in recovery support in an independent setting.

As so many people in recovery have experienced, being kept from pursuing your academic potential can bring on feelings of depression, defeat, and low self-worth. Being encouraged to remain a student as soon as you enter recovery can be one of the most empowering moments of someone’s life. The recovery community at large is dramatically enhanced by all of the collegiate recovery programs around our country and we at Life of Purpose continue to feel privileged and motivated to be a leader at the collegiate recovery movement.