Room to Fly

The University of North Texas appeals to a wide variety of needs.

At the University of North Texas, one wall of the Department of Disability & Addiction Rehabilitation (DDAR) is covered with paintings of a Phoenix, the mythical bird-like creature that rises from the ashes of its own destruction.

The paintings all depict a blue and black bird on a fiery red and orange background, but each one has unique details that identify it as one of a kind. The Phoenixes were painted by the faculty and staff of the DDAR to represent the theme of rehabilitation and renewal that underscores their purpose.

Four years ago, DDAR Chair Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC, decided the time was right for UNT to have a Campus Recovery Program (CRP), with the stated purpose to surround participants with staff and other students who understand the challenges of staying in recovery while staying in college. Her goal was an inclusive space that appealed to a wide variety of needs.

“Our philosophy is ‘You’re in recovery when you say you’re in recovery,” she says, and students are allowed to participate in the CRP regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosis or have been in a treatment program. “There is such a wide variety of issues that students bring to the table, whether mental health, disordered eating, substance or process addiction – why would we turn away anyone who is seeking recovery?”

The CRP attracts students from all walks of life, not surprising since UNT is the seventh-largest transfer university in the country, with a large population of returning and non-traditional students. The blend of first-time, transfer and returning students represents a wide variety of ages, genders, histories and demographics. Within the DDAR program, the participants all become peers, learning from the experiences of others and exploring the areas they have in common.

Students learn about the CRP through pop-up banners and informational tables placed in different locations on campus throughout the year so that interested students can join the program at any time during a semester. Four student workers reach out to other organizations to spread the word about services, and advertising is placed in the NT Daily, the campus newspaper. They can also be referred in by Eagle Peer Recovery, a campus peer-led support group; counselors in the health center; or through Life of Purpose, the independent addiction treatment program that rents space next door.

All participating students are assigned a Peer Mentor and Academic Case Manager, and enroll in a Recovery Seminar for academic credit, learning to protect their own recovery on a daily and weekly basis. They are also required to attend a minimum of two groups a week, choosing from a wide variety of options. But beyond that, there is no pre-planned program that everyone must follow.

Amy Trail, MS, CRC, UNT CRP Director, happily accommodates requests from students to create new programs. “Each student’s challenges are unique,” she says. “So groups are always evolving and adapting. Our goal is to meet the needs of the students involved each semester.”

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