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Guide: How To Set Up College Recovery Programs

Successful college recovery programs require the following assets to fully support students during their recovery, according to the 2015 Collegiate Recovery Asset Survey. Although people in recovery learn to manage various mental and emotional problems, college students have additional stress.

Getting Started

Critical to implementing college recovery programs is the ability of the college to offer one-on-one support. For example, a student in recovery needs a full-time mentor/support who can devote most of their time to providing the student with the encouragement they need. Also, these mentors should be dedicated advocates for recovering students and preferably hold some influence at the college and in the community.

38 Assets for Building a College Recovery Program PDF

Attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others near a college campus to make them accessible to students. In addition, an auditorium, classroom, or private, sectioned-off area needs to serve as a meeting space where students in recovery can socialize and engage in sober activities (dinners, dances going to the movies, etc.).

The 2015 CRAS recommends college recovery programs further strengthen programs by incorporating the following assets:

  • Protective housing for students in recovery (by protective, the CRAS means making sober housing with sober people available to students)
  • Institute periodic fundraising activities and grant writing efforts
  • Offer the chance for students completing their recovery program to work as mentors for incoming students with addiction issues.
  • Train students not in recovery to identify mental health problems and possible signs of addiction in other students.
  • Train individuals to help recovering students improve self-confidence, social and life skills, manage their time, and cope with college life.
  • Team with college departments and organizations can help students recover with food, shelter, and other basic needs and medical and psychological needs.

Sustaining Communities

Results of the Collegiate Recovery Survey suggests the following assets contribute significantly to sustaining student recovery programs:

  • Have university departments get heavily involved in supporting continuing research regarding the disease of addiction and evidence-based recovery programs
  • Have relevant departments offer courses on drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, and behavioral addictions (Internet, gambling, sex) for actual course credit
  • Enlist the aid of addiction counselors, psychiatrists, and other addiction professionals for providing recovering students with information, treatment, and referrals
  • Make free or low-cost legal assistance available to students in recovery who have upcoming court cases or are interested in having their record expunged
  • Seek out non-profit organizations that can offer grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance for students in recovery who have limited resources

The Association of Recovery in Higher Education also provides additional information about U.S. colleges and universities with recovery programs already established on campus.


About College Recovery Programs

National Collegiate Recovery Directory