One day last month, students and staff at the Rutgers University residence hall busily planned their spring-break hiking trip to the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee.
Then they turned their attention to party planning for the Super Bowl. Pizza, wings, and nachos were on the menu. Alcohol was not.
“We have some of the best parties here,” said Johnny, 24, a public relations major from St. Paul, Minn. “Sober.”
Johnny and the other students in the residence hall are all in recovery from use of alcohol or other substances, which can be tricky on a college campus where fun too often is associated with imbibing.
“Part of what helps people stay in recovery is that they have fun,” said Lisa Laitman, director of the alcohol and other drug assistance program at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus.
Laitman started and oversees the school’s collegiate recovery program,
one of the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded programs of its kind, with a recovery counselor, organized group activities, and access to counseling, health, and other services.
As the opioid crisis has crept onto college campuses nationwide, more schools are starting or exploring the possibility of adding recovery housing for students.
“I get calls every week from schools trying to get something up and consult with us,” Laitman said.