DU to Open Collegiate Recovery Community this Fall
In a move to provide more support for students recovering from substance use disorders, the University of Denver will open a Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) at the start of the fall quarter during Discoveries Orientation and Welcome Week. The opening also coincides with National Recovery Month.
The new center, located at 1931 S. York St., will serve as a home base for students in recovery and members of the DU community whose lives have been impacted by addiction.
The CRC — an outreach of DU’s Health and Counseling Center — is not an addiction treatment center, but rather a place for the DU community to celebrate recovery and honor the stories of those who have been impacted by addiction. The goal of the program is to provide support, prevent relapse and promote academic performance. Students will be able to engage with and seek support from others fighting the same battles; they also will have access to supportive faculty and staff members on campus.
“Alcohol and other drug use is not a new issue on college campuses, and neither is recovery,” said Dylan Dunn, CRC coordinator. “Knowing the prevalence of alcohol and other drug use on college campuses and understanding the severity of the opioid crisis nationally and in Colorado, conversations began for the need for services for those in recovery from a disordered relationship with alcohol and other drugs. This reality hit home last year with the loss of one of our own students to an overdose.”
According to one study, 31.6 percent of college students meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, while 6 percent meet the criteria for having a diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Another research study also found that students who are active in collegiate recovery programs have higher rates of retention and graduation and higher GPAs than the average student at their institution, and 92 percent of students involved in a CRC maintain their recovery.
DU’s CRC will offer a community lounge, alcohol-and drug-free social events, support meetings, peer mentoring, and educational seminars and events. The services are intended to create a supportive community, where students in recovery are supported in their unique needs and also are fully included in the campus community and able to access a rewarding and successful college experience. Additionally, the Health and Counseling Center will partner with Housing and Residential Education to offer recovery and sober housing for DU students starting in fall 2019.
“Where the collegiate culture at many American institutions allows stigma, shame and avoidance to shape the experiences of these students, we have taken a step forward to communicate to these students — and those who have felt the impact of addiction in other ways — that DU welcomes them and seeks to provide them with the space and community that will empower them to succeed,” Dunn said.
The CRC is open to students looking to find a community free of alcohol and other drugs. Some CRC meetings will be specifically for DU community members in recovery. Others will be open to anyone invested in creating a recovery-supportive culture at DU.
The one condition for participation in the CRC is the expectation of 48 hours of sobriety prior to attending a program or utilizing the space — a policy created to support the recovery of students in the CRC.
Historically, Dunn says, the Health and Counseling Center has provided alcohol and drug education as well as substance use counseling services. The center was looking to provide more comprehensive support services, and as a result began to research and benchmark premier recovery programs on college campuses.
According to Dunn, CRCs are recognized as a best practice in supporting students in recovery. Only 6 percent of four-year universities and seven out of 18 of DU’s peer institutions have developed a CRC or similar recovery support services. Those seven institutions include: The George Washington University, University of Colorado, The University of Vermont, Texas Christian University, Gonzaga University, Southern Methodist University and Santa Clara University.
In addition to education and support, DU’s CRC hopes to provide scholarships for students in recovery, further contribute to the mission of inclusive excellence by addressing inequities within the recovery community, bring students to national conferences and events focused on recovery, and eventually provide on-campus recovery housing.
The support for DU’s CRC has been strong, Dunn says. Where many institutions take years to feel comfortable truly supporting students in recovery, he says, DU wants to be among the leaders in collegiate recovery.
“The main difference between the CRC at DU and collegiate recovery supports nationwide is the speed at which this resource has been created and organized. Most programs function for up to five years before they have any institutional support, professional staff or dedicated space. We are fortunate and unique to be starting with all of those things,” Dunn said. “With the creation of this community, we are excited to be able to move closer to our goal of providing a truly inclusive range of support services to all our students.”
Dunn adds that while the primary focus of the CRC’s efforts will be supporting undergraduate and graduate students, the center always is seeking and appreciative of staff, faculty and alumni who are interested in serving as mentors, sponsors or role models.
“Not only do we believe that programs like the CRC are practically important, we believe that, maybe more importantly, they communicate that DU is dedicated to boldly supporting its students and reshaping culture in the face of deeply rooted stigma,” Dunn said. “I believe that programs like CRCs speak volumes about the level of courage a university has when it comes to supporting its students.”
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