Sober Living in Universities – Sober Dorms

Published on July 12th, 2016

Sober living in college is no easy feat. “Pregaming,” as it is called on campus (binge-drinking before social or sporting events), is rampant, and it can start as early as 8 a.m. on a football Saturday. The parties take place on the porches and lawns of fraternities, the roofs and balconies of student houses, and clandestinely in dormitories – everywhere but inside the academic buildings.

sober-livingWhile they vary in size from small student-run organizations to large embedded university programs, the aim of sober living on campus is the same: to help students stay sober while also thriving in college.

Rates of substance-use disorders triple from 5.2 percent in adolescence to 17.3 percent in early adulthood, according to 2013 data from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration . It thus makes this developmental stage critical to young people’s future. Among Americans seeking treatment for substance abuse, no demographic is growing faster than students age 18 to 24. During the decade ended in 2009, treatment providers say the number of students in that age range seeking help more than doubled, compared with a 9% jump in the 25-and-older category, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration .

Sober Living

A decade ago, most college students with substance abuse problems had little help besides student health services and local Alcoholics Anonymous chapters. That’s changing. Today, roughly 150 colleges and universities in 49 states offer recovery programs, providing students with counseling, community and activities on campus. As recently as 2012, there were only 35 such programs. Many of the newer programs got their start with the help of $10,000 seed grants from the Stacie Mathewson Foundation , a Reno, Nevada-based nonprofit that tries to raise addiction awareness.

But collegiate recovery programs are not treatment, addiction experts say. Instead, they are designed to support students who have already been through treatment and are looking to live and study with like-minded students.

Successful recovery programs have a space that students can call their own with a dedicated counselor who can work closely with the college to coordinate activities. Collegiate recovery programs also offer retreats, academic courses in recovery, leadership workshops, health and wellness activities, movie nights, sober tailgating and recovery conferences.
The idea is to create a culture and a community for students who are already committed to staying sober.

Components of sober living include:

  • Academic Services – Students will receive help and support through the transition process from a drug treatment program back to school. Academic tutors will provide help and support throughout the student’s college career.
  • Recovery Program – Offers continued support for finding sober entertainment, dealing with peer pressure, and how to handle social situations through workshops and group.
  • Crisis Management – This offers help and support for mental health issues or medical issues that arise with the student. Having someone that can refer to medical professionals that have an understanding of addiction is helpful.
  • Relapse Prevention – Living in a sober environment gives 24/7 support for maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

A great resource for sober living on college campus’s is A.R.H.E. (Association of Recovery in Higher Education):

The Association of Recovery in Higher Education is the only association exclusively representing collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) and communities (CRCs), the faculty and staff who support them, and the students who represent them. The Association of Recovery in Higher Education provides the education, resources and community connection needed to help change the trajectory of recovering student’s lives. ARHE are a network of professionals, administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents and policy makers. The focus of Association of Recovery In Higher Education is to serve as a national support for propagating and supporting the vision of collegiate recovery programs. ARHE offer time-tested, research and experience based modeling for fostering and supporting those in recovery who seek to excel in higher education. ARHE is the central authority on the modeling and tailoring of CRP’s to best integrate them into the institution, and ultimately to best serve students in recovery.

Below is a list of some universities which have options of sober housing and understand the importance of this need for college students in recovery:

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