UNC Charlotte took a step that no other UNC system school had taken when in 2011 it created the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC), a program for students recovering from addiction.
The CRC is open to all students who are actively pursuing higher education at UNC Charlotte and who are committed to growth in recovery. In addition to 12-Step meetings (based on the program originated by Alcoholics Anonymous), the CRC provides access to tutoring and peer mentoring, offers educational seminars on life skills, addiction and recovery and establishes a social network of students committed to their recovery.
According to a 2010 survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, full-time college students ages 18 to 22 are among the heaviest drinkers. More than 42.2 percent of survey respondents reported engaging in binge drinking during the previous month. Even the rate of illegal drug use has risen among this group.
Achieving and maintaining sobriety is a daunting struggle at any age, but issues such as newfound independence, peer pressure and collegiate expectations make staying sober even more difficult for young adults in a college atmosphere. For years, school officials paid little attention to students in recovery and struggling to avoid relapse, choosing to focus on prevention instead.
Fortunately, things are changing, albeit slowly. UNC Charlotte, the only college in the state to have a CRC, is among a small but growing number of colleges and universities paying closer attention to students. To date, almost two dozen schools now have comprehensive recovery programs for those battling addictions.
A May 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Education said that sustaining students with addictions is a paradigm shift, calling recovery programs like CRC “critical to preventing relapse... as well as supporting student success in education.”
“A major reason kids drop out of school is alcohol abuse, either theirs or someone close to them,” said Debbie Insley, UNC Charlotte’s director of wellness promotion. “If we can save just one person by giving them a place to come, it’s worth it.”
For more about the Collegiate Recovery Community, watch this video clip.