Universities and colleges across the United States are beginning to add sober housing alternatives for their students in recovery from addiction. Their roommate matching programs allow students in recovery to request a roommate in recovery. Matching students in recovery can dramatically reduce the instances of peer pressure or exposure to relapse triggers in dorm and residence hall life.
Aaron Voyles, associate director at UT, told the university’s alumni magazine that there was data supporting positive outcomes for students who resided with someone with a shared interested. The university recently announced that it would provide between twelve and twenty-four beds for students who have committed to staying sober during the fall semester of 2017.
“We want to create a supportive space for students who have this interest and connect them with other like-minded students,” Voyles said.
The University of Texas has had a collegiate recovery program for more than ten years, and the sober housing option is an add-on resource for students committed to a substance-free college experience.
” The University of Texas recognized the need to support those students who are already excelling here but need little additional support to get the most out of their college experience,” Sierra Castedo, Director of the UT Center for Students and Recovery, told the magazine.
UT is the most recent higher learning institution to announce that it is following the trend of providing students in recovery a roommate matching program. Oregon State University started offering sober living options for students in recovery last semester.
The Recovery Living and Learning Community at Oregon State offers the school’s Collegiate Recovery Program, which had previously been offered through their Student Health Services. This living option will give students in recovery access to peer support at their on-campus recovery homes.
“We are committed to creating supportive recovery homes for all students,” Oregon State University Student Health Services specialist John Ruyak related in a press release. “Through a committed community, we seek to strengthen students’ recovery and support their successes as academics, leaders and community members within the Collegiate Recovery Program and at OSU.”
New Law Requires Most New Jersey Colleges and Universities to Offer Sober Living Environments
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law in 2015 requiring state colleges and universities to provide sober living options if at least 25% of the student body lives on the campus. At the time, only Rutgers was a college with a sober housing option, but shortly after the law was signed, The College of New Jersey opened a sober dorm. Other schools have until 2019 to meet the new requirements of the law.
New Jersey Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who led legislative efforts to pass the law, says college students in recovery face obstacles when they do not have support services.
“Institutions that have these type of residential environments have higher grade point averages and lower dropout rates,” Vitale told NJ.com.
Universities and colleges affected by the law in New Jersey include Rowan University, Ramapo College Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Montclair State University.
The collegiate recovery program movement was established by Rutgers University in the 1970s. It started offering sober living as an option in 1988. One study found 95% of students who resided in the Recovery House at Rutgers University maintained sobriety over a 6-year period of time.
“Our students flourish in this environment,” Lisa Laitman, director of the university’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Assistance Program told the Chicago Tribune. Now, students in recovery are gaining environments to flourish on campuses across the country.”