Growing Number of Sober Programs Support College Students Recovering from Addiction

MINNEAPOLIS — Neil King got his first glimpse of Augsburg University seven years ago from the window of Fairview Behavioral Services, a psychiatric hospital in Minneapolis.

King, then 17, landed in the hospital’s adolescent inpatient ward after overdosing on cough medicine. From a window, he could see a lush college campus across the street. A fellow teen told him the school’s name, and said it had a sober program.

College was the last thing on King’s mind. He had been drinking and smoking marijuana since he was 13 and taking opiates since he was 14. “I was just trying to make it to the next day,” he said. “I lived to use, and used to live.”

After a series of overdoses and hospitalizations over the next several years, King was prescribed Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addiction, and was able to stay off drugs for four months. One day in 2013, he rode his bike over to Augsburg’s sober program, called StepUp, and asked to enroll.

On a sunny Saturday last month, King walked across Augsburg’s graduation stage to accept his college diploma, grinning, with a purple cord draped around his neck to represent his recovery.

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