Collegiate Recovery Communities (CRC), Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP), whatever you call them or hear about there are 131 of them around the country at the time of writing this blog according to Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE). Soak that in readers, 131 and GROWING. What are CRC? They are safe, supportive communities that are part of a University or College campus for students in Recovery. How recovery is defined depends on that CRC.
Here is your mini history lesson in Collegiate Recovery Communities: they began at Rutgers, New Jersey in 1983 and then Texas Tech in 1986. There is the The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech University where they do the research, house the ‘binder’ on how to start a CRC and they are willing to share the secret sauce with any college or university interested (and the association assists too). This is a movement and it has energy and you will be surprised when you review the Universities that have these on their campus.
Universities that were, and still are, #1 party schools in the country are -- rapidly shifting their gears to have a vibrant community of students in Recovery and creating events that allow for all to join.
Check out the regional breakdown of CRCs:
- 24 in the mid atlantic*
- 28 in the midwest
- 5 in the mountain west
- 30 in the north east
- 9 in the pacific
- 20 in the southeast
- 20 in the southwest
*Data from https://collegiaterecovery.org/
And most professionals or parents do not know about these communities are that are spaces, activities that have enthusiastic young people in recovery. Less than 10 years ago, the thought was for a student who needed a community of relationships, send them to a small college, they will get the support they need.
Let's be honest, there is not normally the space on a small college campus to have a vibrant recovery community. Being a student at small colleges means doing keg stands in the closet (I know, I did them). 18+ year olds who are wanting to be in recovery entering or going back to college -- need one of these large or intentional colleges and universities because the school's size, and intentions, matter for student sober support.
I revisited the CUCRC in June and then went to the AHRE conference in late June at Boston University. I heard, I listened and stood witness to the students who were part of these CRC’s from all around the country (and one is starting in Canada). I am still learning and know very little, but I do know that who is in recovery, how they define recovery and integrating all types is what these communities are all about. To be a member you do not have to have graduated from a treatment program nor have attended wilderness therapy, you just need a willingness to be part of it.
What is Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC)?
There are four components to CRCs described in a paper for "What do we know? And what do we need to know?,” about the burgeoning new support vehicle for students at risk) (Each component varied based on the location.)
All CRC’s have community, core members who are the heart and soul. I had the pleasure of hearing a panel of alumni and CRC members speak about their experiences. There were a couple of themes that I picked up on which regardless of your state of recovery it is just good for college and LIFE:
- The relationships that were formed were and are still incredible and what was needed. (Read the last paragraph to see the next wave in CRC’s)
- Transition in and out of the school was easier with the Collegiate Recovery community.
- Like minded means education AND recovery. Which means they felt safe.
- CRC alumni members enjoyed giving back because they had enjoyed the community service while in university. (Another blog, but FYI click here to learn about volunteering & the brain).
- Life is all about connection with like minded people and the panelists were from all over the US and had VERY different college experiences and those were the themes.
- How many members in the community?
- Are the members accessible?
- Are there meetings?
- Are there 12 Step meetings?
- Are there requirements for being in the community (if so, usually pretty minimal)?
CRC’s are starting all the time and universities are not always funding staff positions, especially at the onset.
- Are there staff who are employees of the university?
Not all Collegiate Recovery Communities have housing, but many are growing that side of it. The student needs to apply to get into the housing. This is not like the sober living dorms in the 90’s. This is a community of young people who are choosing to live in recovery. And what recovery is can be very different. It is not always substance, it can be from an eating disorder or something else. This goes back to the community that is formed and who is in that community.
- Is there housing?
- If so, is it growing?
- OFFICE SPACE
I have had the pleasure of visiting the CUCRC 2 times now. It has grown up because the administration at the University of Colorado has assisted ($$) and seen it thrive. It also helps that there are key alumni who have participated in its growth. The office now is right next to the “The office of Greek Life,” I laughed when I saw that - who wouldn’t? It just shows how normal the CUCRC is.
- Is there university office space?
- Is there college-provided safe space for meetings/one-on-one support?
Spring 2019, the CUCRC hosted a silent disco (YAAS) at the university ice rink. The event was publicized as both a sober event and an event hosted by the CUCRC. It ended up being so well attended that they were turning people away — hundreds of students were lined up for substance-free fun. The skating event illustrates how a recovery program or community can benefit the culture on campus by providing sober alternatives to the “normal” college activities. In the case of this event, the vast majority of those who attended were not members of the CUCRC, but they still had the opportunity to participate in a sober, social event AND gain awareness and education around the recovery community on their campus. In addition to events, outings, and trips exclusively available to students in recovery, the CUCRC and other Collegiate Recovery Communities at universities across the country put on events like silent discos and sober tailgates — not only for their members but also for the broader university community.
And of course ask about outcomes. Even though there are 131 different CRCs around the country, they all differ; going back to the 2014 study, outcomes were identified as a need to know.
- What is the relapse rate data at a Collegiate Recovery Community?
- How does each program define relapse?
- Does your program of interest participate in independent outcome research studies?
There is an amazing energy with this CRC’s on the campus and finding the right community for your or depends on the needs of the study.
There will be more blogs on Collegiate Recovery Communities, as I learn, because these young people are energizing and exciting and it was amazing to see 131 different colleges have CRCs. My guess is that within 6 months. this blog will be dreadfully out of date because there are more CRCs growing everyday because students and alumni and faculty are creating them. There is energy in this movement. Impressive energy. Stay tuned and get educated.