Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Facilitating College Students' Recovery through the Use of Collegiate Recovery Programs

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Facilitating College Students' Recovery through the Use of Collegiate Recovery Programs

Article excerpt

It should come as no surprise that alcohol use is a large part of many college and university social activities and may be viewed as synonymous with university culture (Schulenberg & Maggs, 2002; Wiebe, Cleveland, & Dean, 2010). Be it tailgating, fraternity or sorority parties, dormitory mixers, or bars or pubs located on or near campus, binge drinking is more prevalent on college campuses today than at any other time in history (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University [CASAColumbia], 2007). College students are at particular risk of developing substance use disorders (SUDs) as a result of binge drinking, exposure to drug experimentation, and peer pressure (Gillespie, Holt, & Blackwell, 2007; White & Jackson, 2004-2005). Correlates of substance abuse in college include dropout, sexual victimization, hospitalization, and death. To complicate matters, sensation seeking increases as adolescents move into young adulthood (i.e., the college years) and is positively associated with deviant behaviors (e.g., not attending classes; White & Jackson, 2004-2005) and alcohol use (Baer, 2002). Given the relationship between sensation seeking and alcohol use and the fact that alcohol and drug use increase throughout adolescence with the peak occurring during the college years (Cleveland, Baker, & Dean, 2010; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2009b), today's college students face challenges unlike those of college students who matriculated in previous years (White & Jackson, 2004-2005).

College substance abuse is often addressed through preventive services, educational programs (Finch, 2010), alcohol and other drug (AOD) policies (S. K. Harris, Sherritt, Van Hook, Wechsler, & Knight, 2010), and alcohol-free dorms or activities (Skidmore & Murphy, 2010). When students are identified as having an SUD, they may be required to have an alcohol screening if they become hospitalized, attend counseling if their grades fall below academic standards, enroll in alcohol or drug treatment programs to prevent expulsion, or attend mandatory 12-step support groups. Each of these measures addresses substance abuse at the preventive or crisis stage; however, support for sustained recovery looks somewhat different. Within the past 20 years, some schools have noted the value of peer support systems and have utilized this strategy to support students' recovery (K. S. Harris, Baker, & Cleveland, 2010). Evidence shows that, as students move through high school and college, support shifts from parental support to support systems based on friends and romantic partners (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). As a result of this dynamic, individuals who enter 12-step programs during or before college have a strong need for sober social support to maintain abstinence. In fact, an average of 50,000 college students in the United States are in need of support services to help them to prevent relapse and navigate the challenges associated with college life ("College Campuses Becoming Active Site," 2010). Consequently, a number of colleges and universities are developing recovery support systems (Cleveland & Harris, 2010; "College Campuses Becoming Active Site," 2010).

Recovery support takes many forms, including on-campus substance abuse treatment facilities, campus-based substance abuse counselors, on-campus peer support systems, and on-campus offerings of 12-step support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous; IC S. Harris, Baker, & Cleveland, 2010). Some schools (also known as recovery schools) have gone so far as to offer comprehensive recovery programs for students that include academic and recovery support, with the purpose of supporting students in maintaining their sobriety during their college years (K. S. Harris, Baker, & Cleveland, 2010; K. S. Harris, Baker, Kimball, & Shumway, 2010). Critics of collegiate recovery programs tend to believe that the presence of such programs indicates that the university has a drug problem or are unfamiliar with what recovery support means. …

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