New center opens, aims to help students recovering from addictions
Students seeking help with substance use disorders or any addictive behavior can look to the new Center for Students in Recovery, or CSR.
Zachary Ramsey heads the program as collegiate recovery manager and said the center’s services and programming will be fully functional when the fall semester starts.
“We’re going to provide a recovery community where students with any type of addiction can find safety and support to live an authentic college experience while maintaining their sobriety,” Ramsey said.
The success of the CSR at UT Austin prompted the UT Board of Regents to approve the establishment of collegiate recovery centers across all eight universities in 2012.
Along with UTD, UT San Antonio and UT Tyler will be the first to test out the new program and operation will change based on those initial efforts.
Ramsey, who has experience working in in-patient treatment centers, said the center will offer on-campus recovery meetings, individual support and sober social activities.
He said the results of the first year of programming will determine how the center operates and what services it will offer to best suit the campus.
“Each campus is different due to the culture, but based on statistics, alcohol is still the most prevalent (addiction) with college-aged individuals,” Ramsey said. “At the same time, the recovery landscape is changing drastically. More college-aged students are seeking recovery than ever.”
While many campuses tend to focus on alcohol, Ramsey would like to take the CSR in a different direction in order to encompass all issues.
Open to all students, programming will include 12-step meetings in Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Ramsey said campus-open meetings will be as accessible as possible, allowing all recovering students to reach out.
The center will also offer individual sessions with licensed professionals.
Although CSR is a separate entity, the Student Counseling Center will be offering its support.
“I think there is a realization that students in recovery face special challenges at universities, and we really want to do what we can to support their sobriety as it pertains to their academic success,” said James Cannici, director of the Student Counseling Center. “We really want to provide supportive programs, services and a safe environment where (students) can connect with other people.”
Ramsey refers to addiction and the recovery process as a spectrum. People find themselves on different points along that spectrum from problem drinking to other compulsive behaviors. No two people lie on the same point.
Oftentimes, an individual’s emotional sobriety, or the step above a person’s physical rejection of his or her addictive behavior, can be affected by another addiction.
The CSR’s mission, and Ramsey’s personal goal, is to consider the whole individual rather than his or her physical addiction.
“To me the best barometer of progress and demonstrating what it’s all about is hearing individual stories,” he said. “The huge strides people make in recovery – their relationships, the way they’re better students and just being happy. I think that having those students in the future and hearing their voices will be the most important part as far as showing what kind of impact this program can have on the community.”