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Jump-start Your Campus Toward a Collegiate Recovery Program

On the other side of that coin (pun intended) is that the student in recovery who finds a home within a collegiate recovery program, invests in their academics from that safe place, and graduates and finds meaningful work and life will forever be grateful for the opportunity. This gratitude can translate to giving that the university otherwise would have lost.

The third piece to this financial puzzle involves the increased attention to wellness that donors will appreciate. Whether he is an alumnus who is in recovery himself, has a friend or loved one in recovery or who struggled/s with substance use disorder, or she’s lost someone due to addiction, they will be excited to see the school investing in this community of students and providing them with this opportunity for success.

From a regulations, policies and compliance lens, I believe that proactive policies can decrease the likelihood of lawsuits. Additionally, student enrollment, success and retention are positively impacted by a collegiate recovery program as 15 percent of attrition from college is attributable to alcohol.

Lastly, I will say that from a social justice perspective, a collegiate recovery program is the right thing to do on a college campus. Recovery status in this country is a stigmatized state. Being in recovery on a college campus is a marginalized and underrepresented identity. Promoting inclusiveness of an underserved population benefits all students. A collegiate recovery program represents opportunities for new campus traditions. These offer attractive alternatives to stereotypical rite-of-passage behaviors. Students in recovery are often leaders in creating sober parties and activities for all students, writing new narratives about college life.

Creating opportunities for young people in recovery to go to college, start or continue with their education, and pursue higher degrees of education and professional development doesn’t just make sense financially, it makes sense spiritually. It’s a win-win. Being denied access to education because of a disease or disability is illegal. Having an environment that disallows translates to the same thing.

The Association of Recovery in Higher Education is working hard to empower collegiate recovery programs and professionals to support students in recovery through a variety of strategic approaches. But we need help from all of you! If you are interested in helping programs to develop, to become sustainable, to connect with others and collaborate, and/or can use your voice, expertise and skills to educate and advocate, then please join us in our efforts toward creating a collegiate culture that embraces recovery! Collegiate recovery doesn’t just save lives — it provides the opportunity to have the life you always wanted.


Amy Boyd Austin is the president of the Association of Recovery in Higher Education and the director of the Catamount Recovery Program at the University of Vermont. She has her master’s in social service management from Bryn Mawr College and her bachelor’s in criminal justice from the University of Delaware. Boyd Austin has worked in the field of addiction and recovery for the past 25 years. She is passionate about supporting students in recovery from both a micro and macro level and believes this fits well within her social justice lens of seeking equity for underrepresented identities in pursuit of higher education and an overall level playing field.

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