Recovery On Campus

Dorm_Room_1In what may turn out to be the first instance of a really great idea, Rutgers University in New Jersey has started a new type of residential hall – for those in addiction recovery. The dorms are an outgrowth of the university’s alcohol and drug assistance program and they have one essential element – students are protected from the pressure of drinking and drugging that comes with living with non-addiction students.

But the recovery option is more than just abstinence, according to the program director.

“A recovery room is for students who are actively pursuing staying sober.”

The extent to which addiction negatively impacts the pursuit of a college degree isn’t known. For many, graduation isn’t prevented with binges on the weekends. But, just as in other areas of life, especially where there is high pressure to perform, an addiction crisis can cripple someone’s chances. In a college setting, failing one class in a mandatory series can set a student back an entire year. That’s huge.

The dorms, which are reported to house 31 students this year, give addicted students a positive atmosphere and one where recovery is on the menu. The all important ingredient is peer relationships. Instead of the party focus, there’s a sober understanding of the power that drugs and alcohol has to ruin lives. They meet twice a week in either AA or NA meetings and a trained addiction therapist is available.

According to school sources, fun is one key element in the mix. The idea is to not only stop using behaviors and maintain recovery, but to replace those harmful things with enjoyable activities like intramural sports and other social events that don’t involve alcohol or drugs.

It’s certainly not all smooth sailing though. But when residents relapse, there are peers ready and waiting to help them back to sobriety. In this situation, your AA and NA sponsor might be your neighbor the next door down. College is tough enough already, and it’s nice to see Rutgers taking the lead to help those who want to help themselves.

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