College can be an extremely stressful time for many young adults. In addition to expectations of high academic performance, for many, it represents experiencing the freedom and responsibility of living away from home for the first time.
People who have never lived apart from the watchful eyes of their parents have to face new pressures, and also sometimes navigate new temptations of a party culture that encourages irresponsible substance use. According to a 2007 report by CASA Columbia, half of all college students (3.8 million) binge drink or abuse drugs, and about 1 in 4 (1.8 million) meet the medical criteria for addiction, far higher rates then any other age or social group.
Thus, substance abuse is a huge problem on college campuses. In 2013, one school, Ohio State University began a program that is attempting to tackle this problem in a big way by launching the Collegiate Recovery Community.
Services offered by Ohio State's CRC
The Collegiate Recovery Community is officially sponsored by the college, and part of its Office of Student Life. In this way, the school is giving official support to a group working hard to create innovative ways to help students manage the challenge of recovery while also pursuing academic and professional goals.
According to the CRC's website, 950 students at OSU are in active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The CRC office is committed to "helping them succeed not only academically, but also personally.... Investing in recovery to fuel opportunities" They do this through peer to peer support, academic advising, a weekly all-student support group, and monthly educational workshops.
They also sponsor sober campus housing, through the Recovery House at Penn Place. Recovery House is a 28-bed, on-campus residence space where students in recovery can live and support each other.
Available to Ohio State students in recovery who has successfully completed at least 6 months of abstinence from drugs and alcohol, it offers a safe space for people in serious recovery to support each other, and avoid settings where they may be tempted to relapse. A parent of Mark, a student in recovery was greatly impressed with the program, and noted how much it helped her son, saying, "It's right on campus.
It's a social circle and a support group; it's other young people his age who are struggling with the same problems and striving for the same goals." One of the most essential parts of recovery is learning how to replace addiction with good, life-sustaining habits, and Ohio State is working to create a safe environment where students perusing recovery can get the help they need to make those lifestyle changes.
Outreach to the rest of the campus
The CRC also puts on special events, in which the recovery community can meet and enjoy each other, and spread the word to other addicted students that help is possible. In 2013, a Sober Tailgate party celebrating the season's first football game with soda, water, and coffee attracted 40 students who wanted to participate in the experience of collegiate partying, without the binge drinking that is usually accepted as inevitable.
In this way, they show all students, whether in or out of the recovery process that alcohol is not needed to have a fun time. The CRC provides students with community service, and monthly educational events on substance abuse and recovery.
In cooperation with the school's Wellness Center, they also offer screening tools and interactive online surveys to help students figure out if their alcohol and marijuana use is becoming addictive or having a negative impact on their lives.
The CRC is already becoming an immensely influential program, closely watched by other schools seeking to create a response to the problem of students in need of recovery. Currently, around 24 schools offer comprehensive recovery programs, and that number is increasing as word about the success of Ohio State's program spreads.