The UConn Recovery Community: Fostering unity and wellness

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The Recovery Community Housing located on Storrs Road acts as a safe gathering and living area for those fighting addiction. The community meetings are open to anyone and occur on Friday. Photo courtesy of File Photo

Launched in 2013 and located in the historic Cordial Storrs house, the University of Connecticut Recovery Community (URC) aims to provide a safe space for UConn students who want to begin recovery. 

As a group designed to support students and faculty affected by addiction, the URC offers several programs for its members. Run by two social work graduate students, Zachary Green and Meghan O’Connor, as well as director Sandy Valentine, the group aims to support students in whatever capacity they can.  

“The URC is a general recovery support service,” Green said. “We define recovery as whatever you want it to look like, whether that be from substance use, trauma, an eating disorder or just general mental health concerns. Some support programs we offer are All Recovery Meetings, Friends of Recovery Meetings, Recovery Yoga and Recovery Ally Training.”  

“What makes collegiate recovery potentially difficult is that people don’t picture a college student as someone in recovery,” O’Connor said. “College students going through this experience might be affected by these stigmas, which is why the URC is an important safe space and a good way to normalize their experiences of not using substances in college.” 

 When asked about this stigma, a student who wished to remain anonymous answered, “Addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone. I think many people tend to think addiction only affects older people. But a lot of young kids struggle with it too. In a college setting, substance culture is a very real thing. The work the URC is doing is so important to combat that.” 

When asked about how he became involved with the URC, Green answered, “I am a person in long-term recovery from many things. I was interested in working for the URC because I got a lot out of service work in twelve-step programs and wanted to help more people. Once I got to the URC, I used my previous experience as a yoga teacher and started running Recovery Yoga. It is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.”  

O’Connor runs the All Recovery Meetings, as well as the Friends of Recovery Meetings.  

“THE URC IS A GENERAL RECOVERY SUPPORT SERVICE. WE DEFINE RECOVERY AS WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE, WHETHER THAT BE FROM SUBSTANCE USE, TRAUMA, AN EATING DISORDER OR JUST GENERAL MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS. SOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS WE OFFER ARE ALL RECOVERY MEETINGS, FRIENDS OF RECOVERY MEETINGS, RECOVERY YOGA AND RECOVERY ALLY TRAINING.”

Zachary Green

“I get to work with students and faculty to help them in their recovery journey, and it’s very rewarding,” O’Connor said. “My experience as a person in recovery can help those who have a loved one recovering from addiction and help others become better allies. I was interested in working for the URC because I am a person in recovery from multiple addictions and have family who are struggling with addiction.”  

In addition to helping recovering students themselves, the URC aims to make UConn a more recovery-friendly campus by eradicating harmful language around addiction and educating through Recovery Ally Trainings.  

When asked about this mission, Valentine said, “Our goal is to make more college campuses recovery friendly. We want to make sure students are comfortable asking for help instead of feeling stigmatized. We want to make sure students, staff and faculty intervene with empathy when they encounter someone struggling. Our hope is that recovery will be understood, respected and celebrated.”  

One way the recovery community aims to raise awareness of their mission is through their annual “Campus Cleanup.”  

“It was a great day,” an anonymous student said. “We were able to pick up about 900 lb. of trash around campus this October, and it was a great opportunity for the student body to see what our group is all about.”  

“I joined to work on my addiction to substances, and mental health,” an anonymous student, who has been part of URC for a month and a half, said. “It’s hard to find a community of people who will lead you in the right direction, since most of my friends were substance users too. Now, about a month later, I have a wonderful group of people who really care about me. The URC has given me an entirely new life, and I can’t express how thankful I am. The URC is a vital part of many students’ lives and an important part of our UConn community. To anyone considering beginning their recovery, I promise it will be worth it.”   

If you are a UConn student in or wanting to pursue recovery, or if you have someone in your life affected by a substance use disorder, please reach out to urc@uconn.edu.  

2 COMMENTS

  1. This makes me so so happy and beyond proud of UCONN, they are opening up the freedom to let their students know its not always something that needs to be hidden. I am going on 5 plus years of recovery and I know my meetings are what saved me and gave me a support group to keep me on my toes. Many of whom I still am in Contact with. I’d love to get involved with this as well. I am not a student. But, I am so happy again to see this and it give me hope for these kids who might be ashamed at first to ask for helo!

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