CATS for Recovery

This fall, students in recovery at the University of Kentucky will have the option of living with like-minded peers in the Living Learning Program CATS for Recovery.

The program, which shares a building with the Agricultural LLP, 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 Collegiate Recovery Community 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,” says Prevention Coordinator Kelsey Otten. “We will provide a 12-Step weekly recovery group, programming, academic seminars and social events.”

Starting small and taking a strategic approach, the LLP will initially offer 26 beds for students of all grade levels. Ideally, people in the program will be at least six month sober, but Otten says the school will take it on a case-by-case basis. Peer mentors will also live on the floor and serve as liaisons between the students and administrators.

During the fall semester, students in the LLP will be enrolled in a class geared toward recovery. The curriculum will focus on wellness topics as well as other topics such as navigating around campus.

Although the LLP and collegiate recovery community are two distinct programs, they will collaborate. For example, Otten anticipates that LLP students will be connected with the recovery meetings that take place at the CRC. “Since we want all our students in recovery to form a bond, we will provide social programming that will bring both entities together in the evenings and on weekends,” she says.

The goal is for students to be proud of their community. To inspire a sense of camaraderie, a social media hashtag was created and pins were designed for students and allies to wear. “This all circles back to school, community and pride — it gets people involved in the movement,” Otten says.

—Patti Zielinski

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