Striving for Excellence


The ARHE board announces new revised standards and recommendations.

In the past issue, I wrote about the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) standard regarding collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) embracing abstinence-based recovery. I would like to summarize the remaining standards and recommendations updated by the ARHE board. These standards and recommendations are provided to offer clear information for students, family members and university officials and to help emerging and new CRPs strive for excellence.

CRPs are housed within institutions of higher education that confer degrees.

Both students who are in recovery and the campus culture benefit the most when academic institutions take ownership of recovery supports on their campuses. Therefore, CRPs should be institutionalized within the structure of the university and not provided by an outside entity.

CRPs are nonprofit entities.

A nonprofit organization status promotes the ability to keep the mission and structure above the personal interests of individuals and other for-profit motives. Thus, students should not be charged for standard supports (e.g., recovery coaching, not-for-credit seminars, use of recovery space). Students may be charged for additional supports (e.g., trips, on-campus housing, study abroad and for-credit coursework) at usual university rates.

CRPs have paid, qualified, trained, ethical and dedicated professionals who support students in recovery.

The primary mission of professionals in the collegiate recovery field is to support students who are in recovery in higher education settings. This mission is best accomplished by having at least one paid, qualified, trained and dedicated professional employed by the university who can assess the needs of the community and each student to ensure appropriate levels of structure and support are provided. Such staff may come from a broad range of educational backgrounds and experience.

CRPs have dedicated physical space for students in recovery to gather and support one another.

Dedicated space is vital to the mission of supporting students in recovery. Students need safe spaces to gather, meet, support one another, and find respite from the dominant narrative around drinking and drug use found on college campuses. Dedicated space communicates pride and belief in the value of the recovery identity. ARHE embraces the community-building power of dedicated space for students in recovery.

CRPs have within them a collegiate recovery community with students who offer one another peer support.

It is essential for CRPs to have a community of students to provide peer support to one another. Peer support provides a sense of belonging, community, fun, accountability and leadership opportunities while pursuing higher education.

CRPs provide a variety of recovery support programmatic elements to assist students in maintaining and protecting their recovery.

In general, programmatic elements must account for a full range of recovery stages and pathways (e.g., 12-step fellowship, medication-assisted recovery, faithbased approaches.) Stages range from early recovery (i.e., requiring greater levels of structure and support) to sustained recovery (i.e., allowing greater autonomy). ARHE offers the following points in developing these programmatic elements:

  • CRPs provide a variety of recovery support services to assist students in maintaining and protecting their recovery.
  • CRPs maintain clearly understood requirements for continued student participation.
  • CRPs include a preplanned response for student relapse, including referral to treatment services as needed and a continuation of education as appropriate.
  • CRPs recognize the prevalence of co-occurring disorders as well as behavioral addictions or problems. CRPs are encouraged to develop appropriate programming and referral resources for students who face these challenges.
  • CRPs may offer recovery housing. Where possible, CRPs offer dedicated recovery housing on campus (different from substance-free housing) or provide access to recovery-oriented housing options off campus.
  • CRPs may advertise their services across the campus.
  • CRPs may publicize the program to incoming students and parents.
  • CRPs often assist nonparticipating students who reach out for support by facilitating referrals and offering support in the transition into recovery and, where necessary, back into school.
  • CRPs serve as a liaison by providing referral services to other campus resources as needed.
  • CRPs serve as a liaison by providing referral services to off-campus resources.

CRPs often identify and collaborate with on-and off-campus partners and stakeholders.

CRPs may collaborate with stakeholders to assist with financial development, referral sources, additional programmatic and student support services, recruitment, and outreach and education opportunities. CRPs may partner with campus entities that support alcohol and other drugs prevention efforts and recovery. Strengthening these partnerships may also assist in increasing supports to students with needs along the substance use continuum, such as those who may benefit from a harm reduction or moderation approach. CRPs may engage in outreach to the larger student body to create awareness of substance use, misuse and addiction to educate and promote recovery.

To read these new standards in their entirety, visit


Dr. Thomas G. Kimball serves as the president of the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, holds the George C. Miller Family Regents Professor at Texas Tech University and is the director of the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities. In addition to his responsibilities at Texas Tech, Kimball is the clinical director for MAP Health Management. He has received numerous teaching awards for his courses on families, addiction and recovery. He is the author of several peer-reviewed articles on addiction and recovery and has presented on recovery-related issues across the nation. He is the co-author of the book Six Essentials to Achieve Lasting Recovery.

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