Drinking heavily and experimenting with drugs is almost considered a rite of passage in college. We assume that everyone does it. And the statistics back that assumption up. Sixty percent of college students have had a drink in the last month and two-thirds of them engaged in binge drinking during that time period. In fact, about 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. Substance-use disorders in general increase from 5.2 percent in adolescence to 17.3 percent for those in early adulthood.
So, what do you do if you’ve been through treatment and have found your sobriety but want to go to college? It’s an environment where drinking and drug use are common place and you might think that this will be a threat to your recovery.
Luckily, there is a solution on a growing number of college campuses. The Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) represents higher learning institutions that have collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) and collegiate recovery communities (CRCs). They provide education, resources, and community connection needed to help change the trajectory of recovering students’ lives in colleges all over the country. The colleges that offer recovery support for students have ballooned from 35 programs in 2012 to 150 colleges and universities in 49 states as of 2016.
CRPs and CRCs are a bit different, but both have the ultimate goal of connecting like-minded sober individuals who have been through treatment. They are intended to provide support, prevent a return to use, and promote academic achievement through a variety of ways. CRCs are generally built into an institution’s structure, based out of the existing counseling or mental health services. They are developed by students, who have an active voice in the programming and social aspects of the community. They include things like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, counseling, and planned sober events, and they have a dedicated space for students to interact. While CRPs offer these services and activities as well, they usually offer onsite sober housing as an additional perk.
The best thing about these programs? They actually work! There is a reported relapse rate of only 5 percent nationally for students in recovery who use these programs compared to 40 to 60 percent in the general population.
College is stressful enough without worrying if you’re going to relapse. CRPs and CRCs can be vital in ensuring that you are able to get the best education you can while also staying sober.