Opinion

Students would benefit from recovery housing

Students struggling with addiction need a safe haven from the party atmosphere that exists at college.

At the beginning of the month, Parliament passed a resolution to explore an option for recovery housing on Main Campus.

The bill, which passed unanimously, was proposed by George Basile, Parliament’s junior class representative.

I hope exploration of this subject by next year’s Parliament ultimately leads to action. Substance use disorder is a serious health issue, and it needs to be treated that way. A recovery housing option on Main Campus would allow students to maintain their sobriety while still feeling included in the college experience.

“The campus recovery movement has really exploded in the last several years,” said Cathy Fiorello, the psychology department chair. “An increasing number of colleges are realizing that they need to do something to meet the needs of their students that are in recovery.”

Temple lags behind other Pennsylvania schools in offering a housing option specifically for students with substance use disorder. Drexel University and Pennsylvania State University already offer sober living options for students in recovery.

The university would not have to dedicate an extensive amount of resources to recovery housing. For example, Drexel and Penn State allot only a handful of bedrooms to their students in recovery. However, these small programs make an impact on students struggling with substance use disorder with community activities, weekly meetings and drug tests.

Now, Temple needs to create an option of its own.

“Everybody jokes about how college life is a lot of partying and a lot of drinking and drugging, but it’s really not funny,” said Daniel Canney, chair of pharmaceutical science in the School of Pharmacy and adviser of the Committee on Addiction and Substance Abuse, an organization of pharmacy students who aim to assist students with substance use disorder. “And for people that are struggling with addiction, they’re surrounded by it constantly.”

According to the most recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 60 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 said they drank alcohol in the past month, as reported in the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“I’ve always thought it was a problem on campus,” Canney added. “Not just here at Temple, but in general.”

That is why it is essential students recovering from addiction have a safe haven on Main Campus to avoid a lapse in their recovery.

Since April 4, there have been 22 incidents involving alcohol or drugs listed in Temple Police’s crime logs, with more than half of these incidents occurring at student dorms.

A Healthy Lifestyles Living Learning Community already exists at Temple, but it is dedicated to holistic health, not recovery from substance use disorder. The programming for students in the LLC is offered in partnership with the Wellness Resource Center and covers topics ranging from nutrition to time management to healthy sleep.

“It doesn’t provide mandated group therapy,” Basile said. “It doesn’t provide some of the very key aspects to recovery. Recovery housing is a very intense initiative.”

Because of the LLC’s broad nature, this space cannot be considered a substitute for recovery housing. An approach catered specifically to those dealing with substance use disorder is necessary.

“One of the best predictors of recovery from anything is how robust your support system is,” Fiorello said. “But especially for late adolescents and young adults, the peer group is incredibly important in determining your outcomes.”

In a college environment, when alcohol and drugs are regularly being used by peers, recovery housing needs to be an option for those struggling with substance use.

Next year’s Parliament will be tasked with figuring out how this housing option would take shape. But it is essential that Parliament’s eagerness to pursue the creation of recovery housing continues.

Jayna Schaffer can be reached at jayna.alexandra.schaffer@temple.edu.

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