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The Case for Collegiate Recovery

The Case for Collegiate Recovery

By now, many people in the treatment and recovery world are familiar with the term “collegiate recovery”. It is a campus-based peer support model founded on the idea that colleges and universities are a perfect setting for young people in recovery to establish and engage themselves academically while being surrounded by others in recovery. Given that we at Life of Purpose strive to find the best path forward for clients in recovery while encouraging their academic success, collegiate recovery is right up our alley. We are well versed in it; our Florida location hosts events including Recovery Ready Tailgates and our Texas location affords clients the opportunity to join in with the University of North Texas’ active Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP).

Whether you are already a member of a CRP or are just now learning that they exist, it is a good idea to have some talking points under your belt to lean on during future conversations (they will come up!) about collegiate recovery. Three commonly asked questions, to which this piece will provide answers, are as follows: 1) What is a CRP? 2) What does the national collegiate recovery landscape look like? 3) How do I convince the administration at a college or university that investing in a CRP is worth it for them?

  1. What is a CRP? The Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) says that a collegiate recovery program (CRP) is “a supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to disengage from addictive behavior. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.” These programs take on different shapes and sizes depending on factors like geographic location, financial resources, student body size, and so on. As long as a university has a group of students who are seeking a recovery community on campus with meetings, events, and perhaps a common gathering space, a CRP is a logical next step.
  2. What does the national collegiate recovery landscape look like? At this time, there are 73 nationally recognized CRP’s across 33 of our 50 states. Check out this map for a great visual! These numbers don’t include all of the collegiate recovery efforts that are just getting started. Taking that into consideration, it can be said that there are well over 100 programs across the country. These numbers reflect a remarkable growth in the movement since the inception of the CRP model in the mid-1980’s. Four recognized programs existed in 2000, 33 existed across 19 states in 2009, and now, nearly a decade later, that number has more than doubled. The jump from four programs to 33 between 2000 and 2009 was fueled in large part by investments (financially and otherwise) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the federal Department of Education. This recognition by large governmental actors that collegiate recovery deserved attention and funding was long overdue but nonetheless immensely impactful.
  3. How do I convince the administration at a college or university that investing in a CRP is worth it for them? Commonly, higher education administrators are impressed to learn about this national movement but remain hesitant to invest in one on their campus. Reasons for this reluctance might include stigma, financial barriers, and a general lack of time to devote to new campus endeavors. One way to respond to these concerns is with the following facts: students involved in CRP’s achieve higher GPA’s and become more involved on campus; CRP’s increase retention rates for the host university; CRP’s are a recruitment tool for admissions offices (a sample of 26 recovery programs found that 77% of all students chose their university specifically for the CRP). With the right combination of student interest and administrative investment, jump-starting a CRP is one of the best decisions a university can make in this day and age.

Hopefully, you feel equipped to strike up a conversation about collegiate recovery with a family member, neighbor, or local government official. If you would like further information about the collegiate recovery opportunities at Life of Purpose, contact us at 888 787-7673.

Source (national landscape, history of CRP’s): Laudet A, Harris K, Kimball T, Winters C, Moberg P. Collegiate Recovery Communities Programs: What do we know and what do we need to know? J Soc Work Pract Addict. 2014 Jan-Mar; 14(1): 84–100.

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