March 23, 2019 | 30° F

Rutgers recovery houses give students support system

Letter to Editor

I was pleased to read the article titled “Rutgers responds to N.J. heroin problem” written by editor-in-chief, Alexandra R. Meier. Substance abuse has become an increasingly bigger problem that needs to be taken seriously. About 20 percent of college first-year students drop out because of their substance abuse problems. However, according to the article, Connor was able to pull himself out of the bonds of addiction and return to college.

There is an increasing rate of students interested in earning a college degree while focusing on recovery from addiction. However, the social environment of college, which is filled with substance use and misuse, is challenging for the recently sober individual. Students who have been hospitalized or received treatment have high rates of relapse after treatment, yet most college campuses do not have structures in place for the recovering substance abusers. The lack of safe social environments prevents many students from pursuing a higher education to maintain their abstinence. Conversely, without a college degree, these individuals are unlikely to achieve the economic stability later in life.

These students need an environment in which to socialize and belong. Without investing into recovery treatment, we risk the lives, mental health and futures of young people that aspire to live a sober life.

The growing population of students in recovery has given birth to new structures associated with recovery, specifically the introduction of collegiate recovery communities. Such communities allow students to complete their education while maintaining their abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

The Rutgers Recovery house provides a safe haven for students who are in recovery.

It was developed in 1988 by Lisa Laitman, director of Rutgers’ Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), and was the first of its kind in the United States. Students who are in recovery from substance dependence and who live in regular on-campus housing have only a 20 percent chance of remaining sober while at school. However, when recovering students live in housing with other students who are in recovery, that number jumps to 80 percent.

The success of the Rutgers recovery house speaks volumes. The house abstinence rate is 95 percent, the retention rate is 98 percent, the average GPA over the last 10 semesters is 3.2 and half the students this past fall made the dean’s list. In addition, a former member of the recovery house, Ben, became the ninth Truman Scholar and was awarded the Luce Scholarship to Work in Asia. Both Ben and Connor’s successful reintegration into a college setting were heavily due to the services offered at Rutgers.

Neha Mehta is a graduate student in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

By Neha Mehta

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