The epidemic use of alcohol and other drugs on college campuses across America has created a breeding ground for abuse and addiction among university students. That addiction can all too often result in academic failures, tragic accidents and, in some cases, lost lives.
On Thursday, The University of Texas System Board of Regents took an important step to battle alcohol and drug abuse by approving the establishment of Collegiate Recovery Centers at eight of the System’s nine academic institutions. UT Austin is already home to the Center for Students in Recovery (CSR) and is a national leader in the burgeoning collegiate recovery movement. UT Austin will lead the implementation of the new campus centers.
Winner of the 2012 American College Health Association Best Practices in College Health Award, CSR is one of only about 20 such programs in the country. UT Austin, as the largest public university with a recognized collegiate recovery program, will be a resource for other UT universities establishing their own programs. Founded in 2004, CSR provides a safe, healthy and welcoming environment for students to cultivate life skills and celebrate recovery successes.
“The Center for Students in Recovery has been a valuable program for many of our students. We look forward to partnering with other UT System academic campuses to bring this supportive community to their students,” said Dr. Gage E. Paine, Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
With a total budget of nearly $1 million, UT Austin’s CSR will work with each campus to determine the best structure and program to fit uniquely within each campus culture, supporting the implementation and identifying resources for ongoing support. The ultimate goal is to help these programs succeed in supporting student recovery on every UT System academic campus and for the centers to be financially self-sustaining in three years.
“The Board of Regents has a sincere interest in ensuring the success of its students both in and out of the classroom,” said Steve Hicks, Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents. “We are profoundly grateful to UT Austin and its Center for Students in Recovery for leading an effort to implement more recovery programs across all campuses. And we are incredibly proud of our students who seek support and help when they need it."
Implementation will be staggered, beginning with UT San Antonio, UT Dallas and UT Tyler. After the first year, the implementation process will evolve based on what is learned from the initial efforts. Subsequent campuses will be added over the first three years. Due to the unique culture and climate of each UT System campus, programs may look different from one another and will be designed to best suit the needs of individual students.
There are many significant benefits of collegiate recovery programs on college campuses. They not only have the potential to save lives, but are also essential for academic success – promoting persistence, retention and graduation. The presence of collegiate recovery programs can shift perceptions on campus and reduce stigma, opening doors for more students to seek help. These programs can also serve as important recruitment tools for students in recovery seeking a university that supports their recovery. Ultimately, by incorporating student recovery programs like the extremely successful one at UT Austin into all System academic institutions, The University of Texas System will further establish itself as a leader of collegiate recovery nationally.