Grant to aid students in recovery

Cyrus Nuval
Staff Writer

Students who are recovering from alcohol or substance abuse may soon have a student organization of their own.

VCU’s Wellness Resource Center received a $10,000 grant from the Stacie Mathewson Foundation to create a student organization for students recovering from substance abuse and dependency, said Kristen Kidd Donovan, substance abuse services coordinator at the Well.

“We’re hoping to form a more personal and social AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) for VCU students in recovery,” Donovan said. “We also hope to help alleviate the social stigma and difficulty of being a student recovering from dependency or drug abuse.”

Linda Hancock, director of the Well, said alcohol and drug abuse is not a substantial issue at VCU. However, it is still a problem that exists here. She pointed out a study conducted by Texas Tech University’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery which showed in a college campus of 30,000-plus students (VCU has 31,000-plus), 451 students would be in recovery and in need of support.

According to a 2013 study by the National College Health Assessment, only 1.3 percent of the 1,219 VCU students who participated drank at least five-to-six alcoholic beverages in a single sitting over a two-week span.

Hancock said she hopes creating a recovery community will also help attract recovering students to VCU.

“Texas Tech University, which is an authority in the study of drug and alcohol recovery, has a large and thriving community of students in recovery,” Hancock said. “Recovering students from all over the country would go to Texas Tech because of their programs and community. I hope to have that here someday … maybe even with their (recovering students’) own building and dormitory where they will be able to retain sobriety and escape the social stigma.”

Support for recovery programs is becoming a trend among universities in Virginia, Hancock said. Administrations at Longwood University and the University of Virginia are beginning to commit additional support to their recovery programs and studies on drug abuse and addiction, she said.

Support for recovery programs in Virginia, and all over the U.S., is increasing because of the studies made by Texas Tech University’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery, she said.

“It has been shown in studies (from Texas Tech University) that students who are recovering from drug abuse and drug dependency are highly motivated and highly efficient students,” Hancock said. “… They know what it’s like to binge, to fall down or to run away from their problems. It’s usually stigma and disrupting social influences that sway them into relapsing. Without those influences they become inspiring model students.”

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