Addiction Recovery Programs Growing on College Campuses

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — By outward appearances, Andrew Caryl was holding his own in college, with a circle of friends, a 3.1 grade-point average and more than halfway to earning a degree from the flagship public university here.

Inside, though, he was beginning to buckle from the weight of an addiction that took hold long before he arrived at West Virginia University.

The trouble began at age 15 when he would steal liquor from his father’s cupboard. By the time he was on campus, he was using whatever he could get his hands on — alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamine. The drugs began crowding out friends and finally classes. He left campus in 2005 after his junior year and went into treatment, only to relapse. He spent time in jail and in a homeless shelter.

“I used until I passed out,” he said.

But now, more than a decade later and in recovery, Mr. Caryl, who has been clean for more than three year, is back on campus with a 4.0 grade-point average in a master’s program. And the university he once left behind is helping him stay that way.

The special townhouse at WVU where he and other students in recovery spend much of their week is a sanctuary from temptation, with meditation and book-readings, cooking and even dry tailgate parties held during fall weekends on this football-crazy campus. It illustrates what some hope is a change in fortunes here and elsewhere for a population long invisible on the nation’s college campuses.

Almost unheard of 20 years ago, collegiate recovery programs are growing rapidly, including some with recovery housing.

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