Responding to a Need

The collegiate recovery movement developed to support the treatment and recovery of students within a heavy drinking culture where 6% of the population (or 474,000 students) meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependency (Knight, 2002). In coordination with primary and secondary prevention programs, tertiary supports such as collegiate recovery communities (CRCs) and collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) respond to the need to support the recovering college-age student and to increase access to treatment for the student still in active addiction (Smock et al., 2011). Parallel to this, a movement to provide support services for high school students has emerged (White and Finch, 2006).

The recovering schools movement responded to the very specific needs of a population seeking recovery within (what Cleveland et al. 2004 call) abstinence-hostile environments ” so called because, in addition to direct pressures to use alcohol and drugs heavily, the saturation of drugs and alcohol in all manner of activities creates the constant expectation that one needs to drink and use drugs to participate fully in college life.

To meet the needs of this growing population of recovering young adults as they pursue their educations, several colleges and universities have developed collegiate recovery communities to help young adults in recovery maintain their abstinence while pursuing their educations. The primary goal of these communities is to provide a safe haven for young adult students who are struggling to maintain their hard-won abstinence while surrounded by the frequent and heavy drinking that defines the social contexts of American college campuses (Schulenberg & Maggs, 2002). It is hard to imagine a situation that could be more hostile to the abstinence of young adults who are trying to maintain their recovery from substance abuse (Wiebe, Cleveland, & Harris, 2010, p. 6).

Although there are fewer CRPs and CRCs than higher education institutions, preliminary data suggest that they effectively promote recovery, prevent relapse, and improve educational outcomes for the individuals participating in them (Cleveland, Harris, Baker, Herbert, & Dean, 2007, in Smock et al., 2011).

Cleveland, H. Harrington, Kitty S. Harris, Amanda K. Baker, Richard Herbert, and Lukas R. Dean. œCharacteristics of a Collegiate Recovery Community: Maintaining Recovery in an Abstinence-Hostile Environment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 33, no. 1 (July 2007): 13-23.

Cleveland, H. Harrington, Kitty S. Harris, and Richard P. Wiebe, eds. Substance Abuse Recovery in College: Community Supported Abstinence. Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development. New York: Springer, 2010).

Knight, John R., Henry Wechsler, Meichun Kuo, Mark Seibring, Elissa R. Weitzman, and Marc A. Schuckit. œAlcohol Abuse and Dependence among U.S. College Students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 63, no. 3 (May 1, 2002): 263.

Laudet, Alexandre, Kitty Harris, Thomas Kimball, Ken C. Winters, and D. Paul Moberg. œCollegiate Recovery Communities Programs: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know? Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 14, no. 1 (January 2014): 84-100.

Laudet, Alexandre B., Kitty Harris, Thomas Kimball, Ken C. Winters, and D. Paul Moberg. œCharacteristics of Students Participating in Collegiate Recovery Programs: A National Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Accessed January 16, 2015.

Smock, Sara A., Amanda K. Baker, Kitty S. Harris, and Cynthia D’Sauza. œThe Role of Social Support in Collegiate Recovery Communities: A Review of the Literature. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 29, no. 1 (January 2011): 35-44.

White, W., and A. Finch. œThe recovery school movement: Its history and future. Counselor 7.2 (2006): 54-57.