May 24, 2019 | 62° F

Rutgers among NJ colleges to receive $5 million for drug treatment program

The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University and Ramapo College of New Jersey join the list

Photo by Flickr |

$4,762,000 will be divided between all five schools to fund drug recovery programs. Rutgers-New Brunswick already has its own drug housing program and has been the only NJ college to have one since 1988.

Prior to his transition out of office earlier this week, former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) announced that Rutgers, among other New Jersey colleges, will receive $5 million to expand campus recovery treatment services.

Rutgers—New Brunswick and Newark, alongside The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Montclair State University and Ramapo College of New Jersey, will receive roughly $950,000 of the $4,762,000 lump sum, according to an email from the governor’s office. 

“The 'Supporting Students in Recovery' program will provide or expand supportive, substance-free living environments for college students in recovery as well as services aimed at preventing addiction,” according to the email. 

Individuals ages 18-29 comprised 40 percent of all treatment admissions reported to New Jersey’s Substance Abuse Monitoring System in 2016, according to the email. Heroin use among young adults has more than doubled in the past decade, contributing to a rise in overdose rates. 

The five contracts, issued by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health, cap Christie’s longstanding efforts to treat addiction as a disease and his push for integrated primary and behavioral health care in New Jersey. 

“These recovery dorms provide a community of support for students and useful tools to help them in the life-long battle to maintain sobriety,” Christie said in the email. “It’s important that we bring these services directly to the campuses, right where the students and their stressors and temptations are.”

The Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) at Rutgers applied for funds through a competitive grant process, but does not know how much they have received, said Lisa Laitman, ADAP director.  

“When we learn that information, we will be able to make decisions about how the funds will be utilized to expand the recovery program,” she said. 

The University is currently the only educational institution in New Jersey that has a drug housing program and has done so since 1988. The ADAP Recovery House was one of the first Collegiate Recovery Programs in the country and the first to provide recovery housing, Laitman said. 

A leader in the movement to bring recovery support on college campuses, ADAP is part of the University’s Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Rutgers Student Health, all of which are covered by students' fees, Laitman said. 

These services work under an umbrella of health services offered by the University, one that covers everything from counseling to psychiatry, group therapy and a host of other services available to all students, according to Rutgers Student Affairs. 

“The Recovery House is part of on-campus housing at Rutgers,” Laitman said. “ADAP has a grant from the NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which helps us to cover sober activities for the students in the recovery community.”

She said that students who are interested in living at the Recovery House must be sober for at least 90 days and have made a commitment to recovery. Usually, these students have completed an addiction treatment program prior to their acceptance. 

ADAP offers students opportunities to reduce their drug and alcohol use, sometimes refers them to more intensive treatment programs and supports those who are in recovery, Laitman said. 

“The Recovery House is a 12-month residence so that students in recovery can maintain a stable recovery support network and not have to relocate in the summer,” she said. “The Recovery House is available to students in recovery as long as they are enrolled Rutgers students. There is no time limit for residents.”

Paintball, 5-kilometer marathons and service activities are just a few ways ADAP builds a community around recovery efforts. Sober alternatives to alcoholic party traditions, like Super Bowl Sunday and Halloween, bring students closer together and create friends for life, Laitman said. 

“The Recovery House does not act as a treatment program. Its purpose is to provide a supportive living environment for students already committed to recovery,” she said. “Universities with supportive recovery housing offer more options for students in recovery and an opportunity to become part of the campus community in ways that might not be available without campus-based supportive housing for students in recovery.”

Christian Zapata

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