Author Topic: Would you live in substance-free housing?  (Read 2506 times)

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Offline Sal Atticum

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Would you live in substance-free housing?
« on: February 21, 2011, 05:33:46 pm »
We had a house at my undergraduate school that was substance-free; people chose to live there and committed themselves to either living without alcohol and other drugs or (at the very least) not bringing them into the house.  It looks like there are similar programs growing up at other schools, although from this article it makes living in such a house much less of a choice than a mandated sentence in order to get over addiction or alcoholism. 

It makes me wonder what the negative effect of living in "rehab house" has on the rest of your academic career, BUT I wholeheartedly agree that this sort of thing is missing from college campuses, especially those (such as UND, or UVM (mentioned in the article)) that have a reputation for partying and binge drinking.  If were a recovering alcoholic, I think the temptation to drink would be overwhelming if I were living in the dorms here at UND.  I can't claim a complete congruency, but my situation in undergrad was made more difficult by the fact that I chose not to drink until I was legally able.  I can't imagine what it would have been like if I had a physical addiction to alcohol and was put in the same environment.

I would be a proud student and alumnus of the University of North Dakota if they made such a program available to the student body and promoted it as a selling point, not something of which to be ashamed.

Quote
College officials consider recovery house for substance abusers
By: David Unze, St. Cloud Times

ST. CLOUD — As many as 1 million college students nationwide meet the criteria for alcohol dependency, according to studies measuring substance abuse.

And a national study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2007 showed that about one-third of the 1.8 million admissions to alcohol and drug treatment programs are for people 18 to 29 years old.

The pervasive substance abuse by some college students has led to an expansion of college-based recovery programs and, at some colleges, residences dedicated for students in recovery.

St. Cloud State University is talking about opening a residence for students who have gone through drug or alcohol treatment and who want to start or resume their college careers. Although the discussions at St. Cloud State are in the early stages, university officials plan visits to see such programs at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and at Texas Tech.

And they’re not alone.

Southern Methodist University is exploring the possibility of starting a residential recovery program, said Dr. John Sanger, director of alcohol and drug abuse prevention at the SMU Memorial Health Center.

The University of Vermont started a residential recovery program last fall and will expand it next academic year, said Amy Boyd, director of health promotion services for the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Vermont and director of the Health and Wellness Residential Learning Community.

The University of Colorado had a program that was disbanded, but it is exploring instituting a new one that would be similar in some respects to what it had, said Dr. Donald Misch, assistant vice chancellor at the Colorado’s Wardenburg Health Center.

The idea of a recovery house for students who have completed treatment is the next step in St. Cloud State’s residential life mission of addressing alcohol and drug abuse by students, said Robert Reff, interim assistant dean of students for chemical health and outreach programming.

“On my radar has always been, ‘How are we supporting students in recovery?’ They’re on campus currently,” Reff said. “And could we also recruit and be a home for students in recovery?”

St. Cloud State is using Augsburg College’s StepUp program as a model. It’s based on a 12-step program, and students have to be sober for six months before they can apply to StepUp. The program makes counselors available to students for 30-minute weekly sessions.

Attendance at a weekly “circle meeting” also is required. It’s a time when announcements are made, support is offered and celebrations take place, said Patrice Salmeri, director of StepUp at Augsburg. Students are required to sign and abide by a behavioral contract that stresses balanced and healthful living.

StepUp started in 1997 with 23 students and has about 75 students this year, Salmeri said.

Not all college and university programs have a residential component to their recovery support program. Augsburg’s 75 residential spaces are about 60 percent of the residential recovery house spaces at U.S. colleges and universities, Salmeri said.

Having that living space dedicated for recovering students is crucial for their health and educational development, she said.

Students who go through treatment and are housed in dorms or houses where roommates drink or use drugs say such a living arrangement “is like sending (them) back to the bar,” Salmeri said.

A sober house provides support and a safe place for recovering students with students who face similar challenges, said Phillip Hernandez, coordinator of leadership programs and residential life conduct at St. Cloud State. He came to St. Cloud State after leading the residential life portion of the StepUp program at Augsburg.

“The space is important,” Hernandez said, “to be able to work on your work and study the things you need to study without worrying about the triggers, the loud people.”

Jason Lindberg is a 33-year-old second-year student at St. Cloud State who is in recovery. He lives off-campus and sees around him the “Thirsty Thursday and Wet Wednesdays, or whatever it is. It’s frustrating,” he said.

“I need an area on campus, or near it, that’s a legitimately enforceable zone,” he said. “An area that is reliable to be free from substance use and abuse.”

St. Cloud State would need a house, preferably near campus, to start with a small group of students, Reff said. In a time of challenges for higher education financing, the money is always a concern.

But the university’s foundation is supportive, Reff said, and there is some money coming in from a St. Cloud diversion program on first-time alcohol offenses.

Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, professor and director of religious studies at St. Cloud State, has had several students come to him and ask for support in their ongoing battles with addiction, he said.

“Having a dorm committed to sobriety would be the single biggest statement this campus could make regarding the epidemic of alcoholism on college campuses,” Edelheit said.

And it would fill a need for graduating high school students, said Anne Lucasse, program facilitator at City West Academy, a sober high school in Eden Prairie School District.

“There’s a huge need” for college-level recovery support programs, she said, especially at public universities that are more affordable than private institutions such as Augsburg.

“The more safety nets that we can have in place for our students, the better off we’ll be,” she said.
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Would you live in substance-free housing?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 11:59:28 pm »
I personally think at least offering a program like this would be good.  Some schools in ND have something similar with what they call wellness floors.  I may be mistaken but I think that people that want to live more healthy lives typically live on those floors... but of course these would not be as effective as what you describe.

I think the Dakotas are definitely two states that need to implement these or similar problems at their colleges and universities.  The drinking problem is epidemic.  Couple the current drinking problem with sudden freedom and peer pressure and you are in for trouble.  In my opinion the colleges and universities dont take the problem seriously enough, especially with underage drinking and what not.  I know of countless students that have simply gotten off for breaking the law... this is not the right message to send.  How are these students going to learn to be responsible and understand that laws need to be followed, even if they dont agree.

Education programs related to alcohol and other drugs also need to be improved and made more effective.  Personally, I did not feel much peer pressure living in the dorms, but that was because the people I hung out with werent the type to go out partying all the time.

Programs like this for the average student is important, but I think they are more important for people that are suffering from alcoholism or other drug related addictions.  Its time to stop ignoring the issues, its time to seriously look at the root cause and how they can be overcome.
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Offline gh

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Re: Would you live in substance-free housing?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 11:31:24 pm »
I do think that they should have substance-free housing available on campus. There seems to be a large drinking problem in the Dakotas, and seems like it's socially acceptable to be underage drinking. However, I don't think many younger people realize that binge drinking can cause a multitude of problems and interfere with school work, plus they can have drugs slipped into their drinks.

I didn't drink much while I was in school because I worked full-time and went to school full-time for awhile, so I didn't have the time to socialize a lot. I also lived off campus, so I don't think I was exposed to as much of the underage drinking. Then when I was the legal age to drink, I'd often opt to be the DD when I did go out with my friends that drank, because I didn't like having a headache the next morning.

I think a selling point of substance-free housing would be appealing to other students also that don't have addiction problems but that would rather just avoid being around people that binge drink or do other drugs. Also, I think it would be good to have a mixture of people in the substance-free housing, other than only people that had a substance addiction problem. If these people can see other people having fun and enjoying themselves without alcohol or other substances, I think they are more likely to stay away from their old habits and form new good habits and ways of having fun.

Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Would you live in substance-free housing?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 12:02:42 am »
On top of all of those things I would assume those places would be more quiet... less parties?
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Offline Sal Atticum

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Re: Would you live in substance-free housing?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 09:02:59 am »
That was the selling point at my undergrad.  You can get more studying done. 
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Offline pmp6nl

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Re: Would you live in substance-free housing?
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 11:12:55 pm »
That was the selling point at my undergrad.  You can get more studying done. 

I am lucky that most of my housing choices were relatively quiet.  An opportunity like that would have been nice however.
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