Widening the Circle
Due to the stigma surrounding addiction, Likcani says that students often are afraid of how they will be perceived if they admit that they have a problem. “Our decision to keep the group open and not require people to reveal their background proved to be a strength,” he says. “It made it easier to join. We got a larger pool of people who are either struggling or sympathetic to that struggle.”
Likcani notes that addiction often starts at a very early age and having a collegiate recovery program on campus may attract students who are seeking a sober lifestyle. “A significant number of studies show that about 22 percent of college students meet criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis and need some form of intervention. Research shows much higher percentages of abuse of certain drugs or binge drinking, such as around times of finals week, or use during freshman year” he says. “We know that freshmen are at risk; and especially those who leave home where substance use was a major issue may be at a heightened risk to develop an addiction problem.”
In a short time, the group is already logging many positive outcomes. It allows a safe and welcoming place to discuss challenges with recovery; assists in sustained sobriety for those struggling with addiction; reduces the urge to “party” for first-year students; and allows for social interaction with other students in recovery.
Likcani stresses the importance of keeping an eye on the larger picture. “Whenever possible, we send students to statewide and national conferences so they can receive training and network with others doing related activities,” he says. For example, last fall Scheibe and Recovery Central co-founder Sadie Purinton were awarded scholarships to attend the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, D.C.
Recovery Central continues to grow in terms of services and advocacy. It has joined the state-wide coalition of recovery support providers and the Missouri Recovery Network, and students have met with legislators during advocacy events and spoken about their needs as a student body to have access to recovery support services. Last semester, it began holding weekly support groups on campus.
“It’s so important for students to feel connected to something larger than what they are experiencing on our campus,” Likcani says. “They always return with knowledge, energized and full of new ideas.”