Wednesday 15th April 2020 is National Collegiate Recovery Day; our American friends, the people who inspired us to begin our journey in the UK use this day as an opportunity to celebrate collegiate recovery across the country, increase awareness about collegiate recovery programs (CRPs), and shine a spotlight on the key staff, students, and other supporters who make this work possible.
We believed that there was a need for a collegiate recovery movement in the UK. Universities and colleges are ‘abstinence hostile environments.’ For students in recovery from addiction, this can be a very challenging environment. Away from study, it is culturally normal for students to socialise in areas where alcohol and drugs are used. For an abstainer, the social side of campus life can be very isolating and lonely. Just as we do for other minority groups, we knew there should be an opportunity for students in recovery to come together, connect and form an alternative peer group. We believe no person with a history of addiction should have to choose between education and recovery.
The benefits of a recovery community on campus are huge; the students feel connected to an alternative peer group, reduced risk of relapse, recovery meetings, space to ‘hang out’ with like-minded people, alcohol-free activity schedules, sober accommodation, connected to a worldwide recovery community. The university also reaps the rewards; students who are committed to study without the negative consequences of alcohol, the potential increase in University academic performance (proven in USA to increase academic performance by >1 average grade point), students in recovery attracted to Teesside University for campus recovery support, a recovery ready campus acts as a protective factor for those students developing problematic substance use mid-term, reduction of stigma associated with addiction, increase in students being influenced by their peers in recovery to abstain from drugs and alcohol for an increasing amount of time and increase in student retention.
Our journey in mobilising a campus recovery community at Teesside University has been a long sometimes disappointing road, but our resilience and strong belief that students in recovery from addiction deserve acknowledgement and support has empowered us overcoming challenges. Today there is a group of students in recovery coming together every week on campus, support services in the university are fully behind our vision and are willing to help in whatever way they can, the community of students in recovery are having brave, open conversations to other students and inviting them into their community, a main accommodation provider in Teesside is offering sober houses for students who request it, we are known on campus and in the town and we will continue to celebrate and advocate for students in recovery from addiction, students who may not have found the community yet, students who have family/loved ones in addiction and students who are friends of recovery.
As always, our students have amazed us during this scary, unsettling time, they are showing great amounts of resilience and courage. It’s everything what we hoped for; students coming together and supporting each other via texts, phone calls, food deliveries and taking part in ARHE’s pen pal programme, a silver lining during lockdown. As the first recovery friendly university in the UK we have exciting plans when lockdown is over, the examples from our students has empowered us to come back bigger and better. We know there are students on campus who are still unaware of the caring, kind community available, we will use our best asset to find them; visible recovery on campus.
We would like to thank our friends in America for guiding us throughout this journey. The recovery community is a family, thank you for being part of our united recovery family. Today we celebrate; celebrate our achievements, our setbacks, our students, our community, our family. Thank you.
Students in recovery from addiction please get in contact via our social media;
Facebook; Recovery Connections on Campus
Phone; 01642 351976 or 07949034820