As our daughter Katie began visiting colleges during her senior year of high school, we were aware of Collegiate Recovery Centers (CRCs) because some of the students in her outpatient program were in the recovery community at Kennesaw State University. At the time, Katie’s recovery wasn’t the focus of her college search, but it was certainly on our minds. Freshman year is stressful no matter who you are, but for a young person in recovery, there are an awful lot of triggers.

Our goal was for Katie to be in as safe an environment as possible, and we didn’t want her to feel alone. Up until this point, she had enjoyed the support of her home group, and she relied on that community. Who would be her new community once she moved away?

Katie initially had two criteria in choosing a college—the school had to offer a degree in fine arts, and it had to be located within four hours of our home in Georgia. She visited numerous colleges in the Southeast—public and private—and did her due diligence. But when the two of us attended a Monday night dinner with the CRC at The University of Alabama, her decision was made. Everyone was so welcoming, warm, encouraging, and inviting. Here we were visiting one of the biggest state universities in the Southeast, with all that such a large school entails, but this was simply a group of college kids celebrating and embracing their recovery—and each other! Katie turned to me during that CRC dinner and said emphatically, “I want to go to school here!” She didn’t even apply anywhere else.

Once she moved on campus, Katie had an instant circle of friends, a busy social life, and many opportunities for community service. The CRC offers a Monday night dinner, a Tuesday night seminar, recovery nights every Thursday, and so much more. During Katie’s first or second week in school, she spent an entire weekend volunteering at a conference sponsored by ASAS (Alabama Students About Service).

We felt very blessed—I mean it really was a God thing—that Katie already knew Adam Downs before she applied to Alabama. Adam, who is the director of Substance Abuse Services on campus, had been one of the counselors at her outpatient treatment facility, and he had also been her individual counselor. So after Katie was accepted at Alabama, I called Adam and asked what we should do about a roommate. Katie is the only freshman girl in the CRC. We knew she had to live in a dorm, but we wanted to be sure it was a safe one. Adam went to the director of housing to specifically inquire on behalf of my daughter. When I tried to thank him for going above and beyond, he said, “This is what we do for our students in the CRC—we make sure their recovery is supported.”

I know I’m not the key to my daughter’s recovery—she is the key to her recovery. But as her mother, if I can’t physically be there for her, I feel such a sense of comfort knowing that she has that community, and she has adults around her who know and care about her and will support her recovery. We feel so blessed to have people like Adam, Greg Snodgrass, who is the CRC director, and Kathy Hayes, a wonderful volunteer at Alabama.

I really don’t know what my daughter’s college experience would have looked like if she hadn’t found a CRC. I don’t even want to think about it. With the support of the CRC, Katie has handled the transition to college beautifully. Through her recovery, she has matured, and she is more committed than ever. I’m just so grateful. That’s what I feel for CRCs everywhere—deep gratitude.

Betsy, a proud Bama parent

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