The origins of the movement (1977-1997) are explained succinctly by White & Finch:
The collegiate recovery school movement began with the development of school-based recovery support services at Brown University (1977) and Rutgers University (1983) and evolved into more fully developed recovery communities at Texas Tech University (Center for the Study of Addictions)(1986) and Augsburg College (StepUP Program)(1997)¦ Early pioneers in the collegiate recovery school movement included Bruce Donovan (Brown), Lisa Laitman (Rutgers), Carl Anderson (Texas Tech) and Don Warren (Augsburg College). (2006)
The features of programs in this foundational period are also explained in Laudet et al. (2014):
Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs) started at a few universities in the 1980s to meet recovering students’ support needs, as part of a broader effort to address substance use on campus. CRPs generally offered onsite sober housing, self-help meetings (e.g. 12-step), and counseling provided by a small staff (Botzet et al., 2007; Cleveland et al., 2010; Smock, Baker, Harris, & D’sauza, 2011; White & Finch, 2006). CRPs’ strive to create a campus-based “recovery friendly’ space and a supportive social community to enhance educational opportunities while supporting students’ recovery and emotional growth (Harris et al., 2008). The model fits into the continuing care paradigm of a “recovery management’ system (Godley, Godley, Dennis, Funk, & Passetti, 2002). (p.2)
These programs belonged to no consortium and thus their models varied substantially from one to another. All aimed to improve outcomes for students who had developed dependencies on alcohol and other substances. Students participating in these trailblazing early programs had superior outcomes to those were not participants, which was later confirmed by an emerging body of research.