Collegiate Recovery Programs Definition and Resources

collegiate recovery program is a college or university-provided, supportive environment within the campus community that reinforces the decision individuals make to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance use. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

SAMSHA (2016) reported 1 in 6 young adults between the ages of 18-24 met criteria for a substance use disorder and were considered to be in need of treatment. Of those, only 7.2% received specialized care, and 92.8% received no formal treatment (Park-Lee, Lipari, Hedden, Kroutil, & Porter, 2017). A number of studies have examined the unique challenges posed by high-risk collegiate environments and the essential role that peer-to-peer networks and social supports play in supporting the needs of students in recovery (Botzet, Winters, & Fahnhorst, 2008; Cleveland, Harris, & Wiebe, 2010).

Foundational Pillars of Collegiate Recovery


    Learning to overcome, manage, or more successfully live with symptoms and making healthy choices that support one’s physical and emotional wellbeing


    Meaningful daily activities, such as a job, volunteer work, or creative endeavors; increased ability to lead a self-directed life; and meaningful engagement in society


    Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, hope, and engagement in the broader community


    Progress toward successful academic and professional pursuits, which supports one’s ability to lead a self-directed life, physical and emotional wellbeing, and meaningful engagement in society

    By incorporating recovery support services with current harm reduction strategies, colleges and universities can create a more robust continuum of care for students seeking support. This model is based on the original Social Support Theory and consists of four domains (House, 1981; Krause, 1987; Weinert, 1987):

    • Informational: Information provided to another during a time of stress.
    • Instrumental: The provision of tangible goods and services or tangible aid.
    • Appraisal: The communication of information which is relevant to self-evaluation rather than problem solving.
    • Emotional support: The provision of caring, empathy, love, and trust.

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