A Seamless Transition: Linking College-bound Emerging Adults with Collegiate Recovery Programs

There are some strategies that have helped the person served to make the connection between residential treatment programs and CRP’s, and that increase the chances of a successful and smooth transition. The initial interaction that a prospective patient has with their primary treatment provider is an excellent starting point.

  • Adding discussion topics and questions concerning educational and career goals to the pre-admission screening process provides clinical staff with important information about the student before they arrive for treatment. The primary clinician can ask emerging adults about their plans to return to or begin an educational process. Starting this discussion early in the residential treatment process is critical; it can help ensure person-centered goals and longer-term future planning are a key focus of treatment – providing an incentive for ongoing recovery.
  • Involving the family is another valuable strategy. College bound emerging adults may have some degree of financial and emotional dependence on parents and other family supports. Families are not always aware of the options available on college campuses for students in recovery.

As the emerging adult continues in treatment and begins to make decisions about continuing care, it can be helpful to gain information about various CRP’s and how they differ.  It can be helpful for clinicians to facilitate information-gathering phone calls where the emerging adult can learn about the relevant CRP, connect with the staff and students, and get a feel for what they value in the program. Collegiate recovery program staff can also provide valuable information and referrals to the residential treatment provider and student for sober living programs and continuing care clinicians near the university. Collegiate recovery programs frequently require a minimum amount of sober time for eligibility prior to entry to the CRP. Students may choose to live in a sober living community to continue recovery support before entering into a collegiate recovery program. Despite a potential delayed entry, it can be helpful to have the student sign a release of information and make contact prior to discharge from primary treatment. This allows the primary clinician to make contact and be involved in the process from the beginning.  The student may need to begin taking classes at a community college in order to improve their grade point average to gain admission to a university. There are also collegiate recovery communities and programs at community colleges that support people who are in early recovery.

Depending on the chosen profession, support from the collegiate recovery program can include providing early information and linkage toward enrollment in the relevant professional monitoring organization (PMO).  These programs provide recovery support and advocacy for students pursuing a license and career in nursing, medicine, law, and other advanced-degree or licensed professions.  It is vital for the staff of collegiate recovery programs and professional monitoring organizations to make themselves and their program policies and practices known to each other for the sake of optimal support of the student during their academic and early-career training timeline (Coon, 2015).  Effective collaboration between CRP’s and PMO’s will provide the student with hope (vs. the belief it is impossible to successfully navigate professional licensing requirements, given their personal history), promote anonymity when needed, as well as maximize seamless accountability and advocacy.

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