A (Blue) Grass Movement
“The CRC provides that safe environment where they can be themselves and be surrounded by like-minded individuals,” Otten continues. “One of the worst things we can do is let them experience isolation because they find it difficult to relate to many other students.”
The recovery community provides that connection. In January 2017, the CRC opened its dedicated space in Blazer Dining Hall — a former classroom that was turned into a lounge with a meditation area with yoga mats and computers that is also used for recovery meetings. It plans on providing activities such as mindfulness meditation and yoga. Across the hall is an office space where Otten can connect with students on a more frequent basis. Having this dedicated location to meet on campus gives students a place where they can go and spend time with people of the same mindset.
“Any additional support is good,” Otten says.
“It allows for more open and honest conversations around recovery on campus.”
Another goal is getting the students involved in the outside community through biweekly meetings.
“College students tend to live in their little campus bubble,” Otten says. “We want them to see how they are connected with a larger community so they can see they have other support systems.”
This summer, the CRC plans to focus on training recovery allies who can serve as ambassadors on campus.
“Our goal is to use allies to help us educate people about what recovery and the CRC are,” she says. “We want the student population to know what recovery looks like on a college campus.
The allies will use positive language when talking about recovery with the hope of getting more conversations around recovery started.
“I am an ally,” she continues. “There is a huge responsibility on my part to advocate for students in recovery. Sometimes it can be overwhelming: Students don’t know who they can talk to. It’s an ally’s responsibility to speak up. Many times, they’ll overhear a conversation that presents an opportunity for education, for example. Allies help students in recovery know they are not alone, that they can rely on other people for support, that they have people advocating on their behalf.”
CATS for Recovery
The Living Learning Program (LLP) — called CATS for Recovery — will share a building with the Agricultural LLP.
“We have a designated area, but the students are not isolated,” Otten says. “We want to let them know that there are people there who want to live with them and support them in their recovery.”
CATS for Recovery will be open to any student living in long-term recovery from substance use disorders, eating disorders and other behavioral addictions, as well as students who are supportive and interested in living a healthy, substance-free lifestyle. Based on a holistic wellness model, the program collaborates with Campus Recreation and Wellness, the CRC and the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine.
“It’s important for us to offer students in recovery an opportunity to live in a safe, substance-free environment and be surrounded by like-minded, supportive peers,” she says. “We will provide a 12-step weekly recovery group, programming, academic seminars and social events.”