Going off to college has long since been associated with partying, drinking, and drugging. Most young people arrive to college at the age of 18. Unsupervised and away from their parents for the first time, many of these young adults develop a problem with substance abuse while pursuing their degree. Additionally, new research shows that more and more young adults are arriving to colleges and universities all over the country already in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. According to a 2013 report by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, substance abuse has tripled among adolescents in recent years from 5.2 percent to a whopping 17.3 percent. Current addiction trends in 2017 suggest the number of addicted young adults will continue to increase. This means more and more students are entering college with a substance abuse problem or in recovery from one. There has never been a greater need to promote addiction recovery on campuses across the United States To accommodate students in recovery, one educational institution has risen to the challenge. Oregon State University (OSU) is the place to be if you are a recovering student. The university has made a notable effort in recent years to facilitate sobriety on its campus. Since 2013, it has created organizations centered on recovery and been hosting regular sober activities on campus. Now, OSU has a dorm that only houses recovering students. The facility is dedicated to students who are committed to living a sober lifestyle while they attend college.
Oregon State University’s Collegiate Recovery Center
OSU first launched its Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) in the fall semester of 2013. The CRC provides a supportive sober environment for students who were once addicted to drugs or alcohol, but now participate in recovery. This includes a 24/7 clubhouse space that offers recovery-oriented meetings, sober study spaces, a lounge, a kitchen, and sober events. “At OSU, we encourage the responsible consumption of alcohol,” said John Ruyak, the alcohol and drug recovery specialist who runs the CRC. “But, a few years ago we began to recognize the need to also provide a supportive sober living environment for students who are recovering from substance abuse.” With financial support from the OSU Beverage Partnership funded by Pepsi, sober students have been enjoying drug and alcohol free activities for more than four years on campus at the CRC. However; university specialists quickly realized this wasn’t enough. In the fall semester of 2014, the CRC began to consider extending its services to include a housing option in partnership with University Housing and Dining Services.
OSU’s On-Campus Dormitory Houses Sober Students
As of October 2016, a sober dorm is now fully operational at Oregon State University. This is a safe, supportive, sober environment that provides an affordable living space for students who meet the criteria to reside in the dorm. Located in Dixon Lodge, the new “living-learning community” provides specialized support to the sober students who live there. The dorm is specifically designed to aid students in their endeavors to stay clean and sober while in college. The community includes dual occupancy rooms and a community kitchen. Scholarships are available to qualifying students looking for affordable housing on campus. “Currently, we have the capacity to house ten students,” said Ruyak. “We have a second floor that will be renovated in time to house even more students, but currently, we are unable to add more rooms. What we have now is meeting the needs of our students.” Ruyak estimates that approximately 400- 500 students on campus could benefit from the CRC. “Although not all of these students are presently in recovery, we believe this is the number of students who could benefit from the services we offer at the CRC,” said Ruyak. “We think in time we will see more and more students living at the CRC either because they are newly sober or because they come to the university already in recovery.” To be clear, the CRC and the recovery dorm do not function as treatment facilities, nor does OSU treat addiction on campus. “We do have addiction specialists working at Student Health Services who offer assistance to students who are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, but we do not offer treatment here on campus.”
Recovery Dorms – The Wave of the Future?
Although OSU is currently the only university on the West Coast with a sober dormitory, it is not the only university in the United States offering this service. Approximately 150 campuses in 49 states provide on-campus recovery support or sober living options. Auburn University, Baylor University, and Case Western Reserve University are just a few institutions of higher learning offering sober dorms. More campuses across the country are joining the charge to assist recovering students in navigating their college experience while staying sober. This is good news for the future of America.