Peer Power!

The Haven at College launches a Peer Mentoring and Monitoring program serving students considering recovery and those looking to return to school from treatment programs.

Students who are considering a sober life or are ready to step down from a treatment program and return to college now have an opportunity for a unique support system at five colleges. This fall, the Haven at College — an organization that assists students in recovery from substance use disorders through support services, residence housing and outpatient centers — launched its Peer Mentoring and Monitoring program at the schools it currently serves: Drexel University in Philadelphia; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of San Francisco; University of Redlands in California; and the University of Southern California. However, the program extends to other students from nearby universities as well. For example, The Haven at Santa Barbara also serves students at Santa Barbara Community College.

The innovative program pairs students who are considering recovery and those who are in treatment programs ready to reintegrate back into a college setting in a supportive environment with peers who are in established recovery. Recovery Campus spoke to Aly Ries, Director of Admissions and East Coast Development about how the Haven’s program is effective in assisting demographics that are often underserved.

Recovery Campus: How did the concept of a peer mentoring and monitoring program originate?

Aly Ries: We noticed that at the schools we serve there was a huge population of students who were starting to experience consequences from their alcohol or drug use but weren’t at a point where they were ready to be abstinent or to receive an inpatient or intensive outpatient level of care. We wanted to work with these students to help them take a look at their relationship to substances and understand that there is an alternative way to experience their time in college.

The schools are so glad that a program like this exists. When we were creating this program, we heard over and over that there’s this missing link in connecting these students to services where they are just starting to experience the consequences but there’s nothing to offer them.

RC: Discuss the importance of the peer mentoring model.

AR: We have seen across our programs that there is nothing stronger than the peer connection, nothing that will make a larger impact on a student’s success. We believed that pairing students who were starting to struggle with their substance use with peer mentors who are in strong recovery would be a great way to give them exposure to recovery without necessarily telling them that that’s the direction they need to take.

RC: How does this model make it “acceptable” for these students to explore recovery?

AR: Our overall mission with the Haven is to reduce the stigma around struggling with substance use disorders and seeking help. We want these students to know that they don’t have to get to the point where they’re getting arrested, admitted to the hospital or dropping out of school to receive assistance. There are ways that they can examine their relationship to substances without making a long-term commitment.

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