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Strength in Numbers

We also sponsor activities with the Minnesota Recovery Connection. For example, each fall, we promote an event attended by speakers and guests from outside the campus community. It’s very powerful and is a great way to celebrate recovery.

RC: How can policymakers assist in raising the awareness of the need for recovery programs in higher education?

PS: We need to start by educating our officials. We encourage students to be civically engaged. Having students in recovery work in their offices and on their campaigns is an excellent strategy. Having peers speak to local governments who can legislate change is important. It’s encouraging that many states now have mandated that state-funded schools must have a collegiate recovery program.

RC: You started out as a counselor treating young adults and then moved to working in recovery. What perspective has that given you on the continuum of care?

PS: You can’t just drop people off after treatment. Once treatment ends, it’s the beginning of something beautiful. An investment should be given in the life of someone who has the opportunity to launch into his or her true self. We need to look at where people will be — not just where they are right now. This is why I enjoy my job so much: I see the lawyer down the way, the doctor in the making, the compassion people have in serving one another. The continuum of care can’t stop at treatment. It needs to give people a leg up no matter where they are going, whether it is college, trade school or to a job.

No two journeys are the same. I like to tell people I’m a wounded healer. I have my journey and have a lot of compassion and heart for people who are going through similar things.

Written by Patti Zielinski

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