Campus News

New program aims to help UGA students recovering from addiction

Collegiate Recovery Community-h. Jason Callis
Jason Callis

UGA students in recovery from alcohol, drug or eating-disorder addictions now have a program on campus to help support their academic success.

The Collegiate Recovery Community, a service of the University Health Center, offers an environment where students recovering from addiction can find peer support and other support services while navigating their own college experience.

The CRC office and study lounge offers students a comfortable home base conveniently located in Memorial Hall. Staff began offering the services in August. There are currently 20 students who are members of CRC, but the numbers are expected to grow to at least 50 or 100 in the coming years.

“Programs like the CRC can be invaluable in the academic success of students in recovery,” said Victor Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “We’re proud to have the CRC as a resource and support network for our students at UGA. I’m even prouder of these students for taking these steps towards personal growth and changing their lives for the better.”

The number of adolescents seeking recovery support programs on campuses has skyrocketed in recent years. Research has shown that students in recovery on college campuses with support systems are academically successful and have some of the highest graduation rates. Support programs like the CRC prevent students from relapsing by offering new connections and social networks to support their efforts.

Recognizing the need, Dr. Jean Chin, executive director of the health center, spearheaded the effort to start the CRC several years ago. A generous donation from Jack and Nancy Fontaine, whose philanthropy also has supported the John Fontaine Jr. Center for Alcohol Awareness and Education, made this program possible.

Liz Prince, associate director of the health center, oversaw the development of the program. As a counselor and student affairs administrator who worked in alcohol and drug programs at several other universities, she knows the components that are needed to support students with a history of addiction. The CRC offers advocacy and education, 12-step meetings, case management, advising, community service and a life skills class that will be offered for credit in the future.

To be part of the CRC, students must have six months of continuous sobriety or abstinence from disordered eating behaviors. In addition, they must be active in a 12-step community. The weekly programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Eating Disorders Anonymous, are held at the CRC and are open to anyone needing the support.

Jason Callis is CRC program manager and oversees the day-to-day activities. He provides weekly seminars focusing on various topics including life skills, spirituality and yoga. Callis, who has a master’s degree in social work from Kennesaw State University, said he has found the work truly rewarding. He’s most proud of hearing the students’ stories of addiction and then seeing their turnaround after achieving sobriety or abstaining from disordered eating behavior.

Two other members of the University Health Center staff provide their expertise at the CRC. Angie Ruhlen, a nutritionist and eating disorder specialist, and Shannon Bowles, a licensed psychologist from Counseling and Psychiatric Services, provide support and education.