Finding Sobriety at Rutgers

In an environment where drugs and alcohol can be an issue for recovery students, recovery housing offers a safe haven for students while allowing them experience campus life, said Rutgers Recovery Housing alumna, Morgan Thompson, 26.

She started Rutgers-New Brunswick in the fall of 2008 at the height of her heroin and cocaine addiction. But the Bethlehem Township, N.J., resident quickly dropped out when she realized she couldn’t support her habit without a car or job. After failing out of community college, Thompson sought treatment.

She reemerged serious about two things: staying clean and returning to school. But her addiction counselor thought triggers on campus would cause her to relapse, and didn’t recommend college until she was years into recovery.

“I thought my life for the next five years was going to be unstable, sitting in church basements at 12-step meetings,” she said. “It’s an important part of my recovery, but back then people in the meetings were at least 10 years older than me. I didn’t have a real group of peers in recovery.”

Thompson thought she’d blown her chance at a traditional college experience, until her mother told her about the Recovery House.

“The idea of going to Rutgers was at the same time thrilling but terrifying. I didn’t know if I could do it,” she said.  “It turned out to be the perfect place for me. I had friends who were clean and sober – students working toward the same goal as me.”

Today Thompson – who graduated in 2013 – is back at Rutgers working on her graduate degree in social work, and is program coordinator at The Raymond J. Lesniak Experience Strength and Hope Recovery High School in Roselle – the state’s first recovery high school.

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