Addiction, to any substance or activity, is an extremely dangerous disease from which no one is immune, especially not college students. In fact, college students are one of the most at-risk groups across the country to develop addictive behaviors. Up until now, the University of Connecticut’s longtime Recovery Community (URC) has functioned solely as a support group, gathering for weekly meetings and providing counselling and support services through their office. By the fall of 2017, URC hopes to expand its reach by offering its own housing community for members of the program. This expansion would be a huge benefit and step forward, not only for URC, but for the university as a whole.
Designated housing will allow students in recovery to live together in a community that shares similar values and experiences, paralleling the format used in learning communities. URC is a program designed to “provide an environment that is supportive to the therapeutic and educational needs of UConn students recovering from addiction”. Group support is highly valued for addiction rehabilitation, and having this support around the clock would help to improve URC’s effectiveness and the overall group camaraderie could be strengthened.
Recovering from addiction is a daunting task, made all the more difficult on a college campus where drugs and alcohol can be readily found. Having a designated residence for students recovering from addiction will allow the university to ensure that substances that could easily be abused will not be present in these students’ rooms. By removing these elements, which could potentially cause relapse or regression in treatment, from students’ environments, this housing will be an invaluable asset to the URC.
This new housing option also shows UConn’s progression toward a more accepting community. While the URC has existed for years and UConn has always been supportive of all students, embracing this community and advertising for it is more than what most schools would choose to do. While many schools have their own addiction centers or recovery programs, they are usually smaller groups on campus and are not advertised well. On the other hand, since this new housing community was announced, UConn has featured advertisements about the recovery community in the Daily Digest and on flyers that advertise the new housing all over campus. Clearly, UConn is embracing this community as a resource for students and encouraging others to join if they see fit. But then, why aren’t other universities doing the same?
Many schools have some sort of recovery program in place, but unfortunately they do not usually welcome them the way that UConn has and continues to do. While this could be for any number of reasons, it is thought that this is potentially due to faculty not wanting to advertise the use of illicit substances on their campuses. This is not an illogical fear for faculty, as the presence of these substances could be a deterrent for potential students. However, it is extremely important that all students are made aware of these resources, especially if they or someone they know may be eligible to live in such a community. We cannot give the reputation of a university more importance than we do the health and safety of its students.
Fortunately, UConn is not the only school to support its students in this way. Some universities, like Rutgers and Texas Tech, have had residential recovery programs in place for years. Many of these communities have been very successful in the years since their conception, as they have focused on ways to enjoy college life without the use of drugs or alcohol, and highly emphasize the positive ways that students can control their own futures. As URC’s residential recovery program begins, it would be ideal to look to these schools for guidance.
As a university that claims to look toward the future, in implementing recovery housing UConn is doing just that. This program will benefit not only the future of the university, but each individual that is helped by URC as well. We can only hope that in taking this step, other universities across the country will embrace their recovering communities as we have embraced ours.
Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.