Starting a Collegiate Recovery Program

Though Collegiate Recovery Programs aren’t a completely new concept, they are still not quite a household term.

However, addiction and recovery are becoming much more known by high school and college students and parents. As college administrators, we have a responsibility to support these folks in their recovery so that they can continue to grow, develop, and fulfill their academic and adult potential.

Collegiate Recovery Programs offer this type of support. Starting a CRP can be challenging, but ARHE is here to help.  We encourage you to utilize all the resources on the ARHE website to develop your Collegiate Recovery Program.  All the ARHE members have been in your shoes. We know it’s difficult, and we want to support any and all efforts towards changing the trajectory of recovering students lives.

There are many models out there, and it’s definitely NOT a one-size fits all. There are several pieces to consider in developing a CRP that’s right for your institution. And then some of those pieces will depend on specific circumstances at your institution.


  • Consider the values of your institution – what’s going to make a CRP a good fit for your school?  Try to tie it into the mission or vision, or any foundational framework that the school relies upon to dictate its values.
  • Know the values of your school.  Utilize language that ties the CRP to the values of the campus.  Integrate the CRP into any documents that espouse these values.
  • Be clear about the culture of your campus.  Know where the energy is, how things get done, what is valued, who makes things happen, and where money can come from.
  • Identify your institution’s strengths that are in alignment with this proposal.  If there are potential committees, collaborators, students/student groups, funding sources, spaces, recovery-oriented activities or communities, develop these relationships and name them in the proposal.
  • While there is always room for change and evolve, it’s very important to be clear on some of the foundational elements for your Collegiate Recovery Program.
  • Encouraging and promote recovery research
  • What is your Mission, your Vision? What are you hoping to achieve – it helps if you can tie this into something the University wants (i.e. improved retention rates).  These don’t need to be written out perfectly, but having a general idea is necessary.
  • What are the various philosophies of your program?
  • Is it strictly for substance abuse recovery (or will you include eating disorders, mental health issues, self-injurious behavior)?
  • Are you utilizing the 12 Steps? Smart Recovery? Counseling-based work?
  • While there is always room for change and evolution, it’s very important to be clear on some of the foundational elements for your Collegiate Recovery Program.
  • Is it zero-tolerance, case-by-case, flexible, etc. regarding lapse/relapse?
  • What type of CRP are you looking to develop?
    • Counseling based
    • Housing/Residential based
    • Support based
    • Treatment based
    • Student organized
  • Who are your CRC Peer Aspirational Institutions?
  • Who are your stakeholders? What will it take to get folks on-board? What motivates your institution? Why is there investment/interest in this idea?

© 2024 Association of Recovery in Higher Education, All Rights Reserved.

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1541
Kennesaw, GA 30156

A Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) is a college or university-provided program that includes a supportive environment within the campus culture. CRPs reinforce the decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from addiction/substance use disorder. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery supports to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

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