History of Collegiate Recovery

The United States culture frequently presents the college years as a time of rampant binge drinking and substance use as a rite of passage into adulthood. In the face of these cultural expectations, however, some students choose a different route. The recovery landscape around the United States has rapidly changed over the last 30 years, spurred largely by the mass growth of collegiate recovery community programs and communities. What started in 1976 at Rutgers University, and was re-imagined again in 1988 by Texas Tech in it’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery (CSAR), has now become a national effort to provide recovery support resources to students on collegiate campuses.

Currently, there are an estimated 160 collegiate recovery programs, communities, and start-up efforts at institutions of higher education in the United Starts. Institutionalized programs (CRPs) typically have dedicated space, staff, and formalized support services: case management, clinical services, recovery-focused student housing, etc. Collegiate recovery communities and start-up efforts (CRCs), while similar in mission, are typically not institutionalized and consist largely of peer-to-peer recovery support services in dedicated or non-dedicated space. CRCs are most often facilitated in a grass-roots manner by registered student organizations on the campuses they inhabit.

In summary, CRPs differ from CRCs in the types of formal supports offered,  though both have a heavy reliance on peer-to-peer fellowship and recovery supports for students. For more information on the history of collegiate recovery in the United States, please visit the Association for Recovery in Higher Education or Transforming Youth Recovery.