For young adults struggling with chemical dependency, academic success is quite often a casualty of past drug and alcohol abuse. Returning to school after a break due to such abuse can be a daunting task. For most students, the academic environment is where many of their old behaviors and abuse manifested. College campuses are ripe with temptation and triggering situations, and without the proper support it is all too easy to fall back into the same old self-destructive behaviors.
Self-destructive thinking can also throw a prospective student off track before they even get started. Many of us make excuses for why we can’t succeed in this type of environment. Some students feel like they have let too much time lapse or their peers are too far ahead. The reality is this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Recovery is an excellent time to go back to school. Learning to reintegrate into this environment without abusing drugs and alcohol can appear to be a daunting task but new behaviors and new coping mechanisms learned in treatment can help students build a foundation for continued success in both the classroom and in life.
Clearly, there is a need for such dedicated structure and support. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), the fastest growing demographic of people seeking treatment for chemical dependency in the United States is students aged 18-24. The report states that from 2000-2009, the number of students in this age range requesting treatment has more than doubled compared with a 9% increase in people over the age of 25. Increases such as these are leading to increased awareness of the need for proper support and education on the crisis presently facing young adults at our nation’s colleges and universities (SAMHSA, 2012).
Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas was one of the first universities in the country to offer a structured program of academics coupled with dedicated recovery services. This program now serves a sober community of over 80 full-time students and grants partial scholarships to those who continue to successfully meet criteria both academically and in staying sober (Texas Tech University, 2012). The program has been hugely successful and the Wall Street Journal reports that the program has been granted $700,000 in federal funding to teach other institutions to do the same. The Association for Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) has since been formed to help develop such programs and support institutions offering these options. The programs have been well received and some schools are now offering programs not only for students who are in recovery, but also for those students who have family members that are struggling with chemical dependency as well. These programs are satisfying a real need and the timing couldn’t appear better as statistics continue to indicate disturbing trends related to substance abuse occurring with young adults at our nation’s colleges and universities.
According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), half of all full-time college students binge drink, abuse prescription drugs and/or abuse illegal drugs. The report goes on to say that almost one in four of the nation’s college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence, two and a half times the proportion of those who meet the criteria in the rest of the population. Since 1993, the proportion of students using marijuana daily has more than doubled. Cocaine and heroin abuse is up 52%, the abuse of prescription painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin is up 343%, stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are up 93%, tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium are up 450%, and sedatives such as Nembutal and Seconal are up 225% (CASA, 2007). Now, more than ever it is imperative to provide young adults new in recovery with the structure and support they need to successfully navigate this college experience.
At Morningside Recovery, we have developed the Morningside Academic Institute (MAI) to support such individuals. We have developed relationships with local colleges and universities to take this idea of structured support for students in recovery to new levels. We provide our students with dedicated one-on-one tutoring, a beautiful building with dedicated computers and study space, transportation to and from school and structured groups to process on-campus experiences and interactions. Couple this with sober living houses, curfews, random drug testing, daily breathalyzing and nightly recovery meetings and one can see the structure and support is there to help our students achieve success in both the classroom and in their recovery.
The need for this type of support is evident. The college campus can at first appear to be an insurmountable environment for a young adult new to recovery. The anxiety of taking exams and the increased pressure to succeed academically can put untold stress on students these days. Couple this with peer pressure, social anxieties and the ever present access to alcohol and drugs and it is easy to see why so many students struggle in this environment. It is in this environment where a great many of these same young adults exhibited poor behaviors and choices in the past. It is because of this prior poor performance that makes going back to school while the student is in treatment such an opportunity.
Through MAI, students can experience these old environments while having the safety and support of the recovery community to fall back on. Every student has different needs so we will work one-on-one to create an individualized program of study and recovery. In some instances it may be appropriate for a client to take a small course load at a local community college while focusing more on therapeutic services, while someone else may be ready for a more challenging course load and a gradual transition into full-time status. Whatever the case may be, MAI provides their students with an individualized plan of structure and support that not only improves the students’ chances of success in academics, but in recovery and in life as well.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2012), Results from the 2012 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, November 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012 from: Read More
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2007). wasting the best and the brightest: substance abuse at america’s colleges and universities. New York:NY. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Retrieved 21 December 2012 from: PDF
Texas Tech University (2012). Collegiate Recovery Community.Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. Retrieved 3 January 2012 from Read More