Blog is below written by our Campus Recovery Worker.
A positive of lockdown has meant that 3 of us were able to join ARHE’s (Association of Recovery in Higher Education) 11th national conference in America virtually; our CEO, Campus Recovery Lead and a student in recovery attended. Due to time difference it meant slight adjustments to our working week but the tiredness was worth it. ARHE are a fantastic example of what is possible when recovery communities come together with a shared purpose, the entire conference was hosted on Zoom and despite a few technical issues it ran smoothly. The agenda was a whole heap of educational and informative sessions, for us it was like being a kid in a sweet shop.
Attending the ARHE conference allowed us to look at what we are doing in the UK and how we could improve. A surprising outcome is that we are already doing some great things; we have a safe space on campus, we have a small community of students in recovery, we have good working relationships with the relevant professionals on campus and we are slowly changing the narrative of students in recovery from addiction. Due to our journey being a long, sometimes difficult one it is easy to forget the progress and milestones we have reached. Within the collegiate recovery movement, the statement “no one should have to choose between their education or their recovery” is absolutely paramount to why we do what we do, educational institutions need to be more inclusive of this underrepresented group.
Some of the webinars we attended included were “Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Recovery Through a Wellness Lens, Oh the Places You’ll Go: Lived Experiences in Recovery, The Wellbriety Movement: Cultural Approaches to Healing and My Dog Ate my Homework: Reducing Barriers and Increasing Self-Efficacy for Students in Recovery”. It was so lovely to see some of our friends in America but it was especially lovely to see more people from the UK attending, we know that other universities are working hard to implement something similar and the conference is a fantastic source for learning.
A week has passed and we are still feeling the effect of the conference, both physically and mentally. Lockdown has been difficult for many of us and it amazes us that some of our students have reached milestones in their sobriety, celebrating their 3rd and 2nd sober birthdays. It has reaffirmed our mission and we are eager to get back to it. September 2020 will bring a new cohort of students on campus and within that cohort there will be students in recovery from addiction, our mission is to find them and support them. Thank you to ARHE for hosting such a fantastic event in such difficult circumstances, hopefully next year we will be able to visit!