U. Texas to Create New Substance Abuse Recovery Facility

Students seeking support while recovering from addiction will soon have a new support system at the University of Texas.

The Center for Students in Recovery will be housed in the Student Services Building and will open in fall 2004.

U. Texas has worked closely with Texas Tech University over the past year to develop the program, said Chuck Roper, coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Education at University Health Services.

“We feel like we should meet the need of students that has always been here, and we’re using the Tech program as a model because of its huge success with their students,” Roper said. “Substance abuse is a very big problem on the UT campus, as it is on every college campus. It’s not the same thing as alcoholism or drug addiction. Substance abuse is going beyond choice and being out of control.”

Laura Swann, who will direct the recovery center, said UHS was seeking to implement a program to discuss recovery issues and relapse prevention when they first learned of Texas Tech’s successful Center for the Study of Addiction.

The center provides education and support for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as numerous other addictions. In developing their own program, UHS worked closely with Texas Tech.

Since its inception, students in the program have maintained an average GPA of 3.3, a graduation rate of 70 percent and a recovery rate of 92 percent, said Kitty Harris, director of Texas Tech’s center.

The federal government recently awarded Texas Tech a $250,000 grant to help school officials create a national version of its addiction recovery program in colleges across the country.

The biggest obstacle facing the new program at the University is the lack of funding, Roper said. The University will pay for about one-third of the costs, and the rest will have to come from outside grants and donations.

The University has been in contact with Texas Tech in the hopes that some of the federal grant money will be allocated to the new center, he said.

“We are in the early stages of reviewing the allocation of funding toward other colleges and should reach a decision in a few months,” Harris said.

The recovery center will not be a direct treatment center for addiction, said Swann, who is currently an alcohol and drug consultant at UHS. It will mainly focus on supporting students who have already begun a recovery program, she said.

“We are trying to create an environment that is safer and more supportive for students in recovery,” Swann said. “One of our main goals is to increase awareness among administration, faculty and students on recovery.”

Swann said she hopes the recovery center will be a center point for people who have questions about recovery.

“It’s hard to say how big the addiction is on campus, but it is a problem, and this center will aid the recovery process through various support systems, including 12-step meetings as well as academic, financial and community support,” Swann said.

Students can access information about the UHS Alcohol and Drug Education Program and download an application at the UHS Web site, Swann said.