Making Waves in Santa Barbara

She is also pleased to announce that this past spring, the Student Fee Advisory Committee and Student Health Service recently granted a $2,500 financial award to Gauchos for Recovery that has allowed them to install cutting-edge audio/visual equipment in The Lounge at Embarcadero Hall, a safe space for students in recovery to study, relax and socialize. “The improvements will include a large flat-screen TV/computer, video conferencing capabilities and a video game console that should be ready for use by the fall quarter,” she says.

In addition to Gauchos in Recovery, the recovery peer intern program and the on-campus lounge, UCSB has partnered with the Recovery Grads organization to offer a residential recovery housing option called The Haven in the nearby community of Isla Vista, with support services, live-in-staff and social activities. The University also assists students with sober roommate pairings both on campus and in the community.

Bryan and ADP Director Jackie Kurta, are also developing a campus-wide program to provide training to departments on the importance of language around substance use and addiction.

The goal is to help create a “recovery-informed campus.” They are hoping to offer some kind of certification, similar to a Safe Zone training. Recovery language and messaging have already been highly integrated into the training of all student leaders in the Division of Student Affairs

Truth in Fiction

UCSB’s collegiate recovery community is also celebrating the accomplishments of Mack B., a member of Gauchos for Recovery and former assistant manager for the Haven, who won second place in a short story contest given by the Department of English. As an award-winner, he also received a Kieth E. Vineyard Honorary Scholarship — named after a UCSB alumnus with a love for writing who succumbed to cancer — which is given to students who demonstrate outstanding creative writing skills.

Mack, a Chicago native who graduated this year with a degree in English with a specialization in Modern Literature and Critical Theory, submitted the first chapter of a yet-untitled novel that he is writing for the contest. The story, called “The Persistence of Delusion” (see excerpt below) follows the beginning of a recovery path of Leon Nowak, a young heroin user in Chicago. Although Mack, who has been sober since October 10, 2014, has never used heroin, he sponsors recovering heroin addicts and interviewed people addicted to the substance to build a story that is raw, gritty, real — and ultimately redemptive.

“The main character is not based on anyone in particular, but I did draw on my own experience,” he says. “In talking to people in recovery, I started to understand the causes and conditions that are at the root of any addiction. There’s no difference, really — you just cope in different ways.”

At one point, Mack dreamed of being a sports writer. The basketball fan penned articles that were published on the Huffington Post. Recovery shifted his perspective. “I decided I didn’t want to chronicle other people’s greatness as my life’s work,” he says. “I wanted to do something great myself.”

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