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Build Sober Dorms on College Campuses (College)

Students recovering from addictive disorders should be able to pursue academic, personal, and professional goals to enhance their quality of life, just like any other college student. However, they face many temptations that could not only delay their graduation date, but jeopardize their recovery and threaten their lives. This is where sober dorms come in. The idea is to create a space that students can call their own and is on-campus, but does not sacrifice their recovery.

Sober dorms afford the same amenities (offices, meeting rooms, kitchen, computer lab, designated study areas, and a lounge for tv and games) of any other dorm on campus, and the cost is around the same amount too. Dorms are anonymous to protect students’ privacy, and great emphasis is placed on maintaining supportive meaningful relationships. While peer accountability is important, recovery counselors are on staff and available to advise and mentor students. They are not recovery counselors though, and only intervene in situations when necessary. Participation in recovery focused extracurricular activities is highly encouraged, but not obligated. Collegiate recovery programs offer retreats, academic courses in recovery, leadership workshops, health and wellness activities, movie nights, sober tailgating, recovery conferences, and family weekends.

The dormitories are solely for students in recovery. Prospective students must demonstrate their commitment to their recovery prior to acceptance. They will have been sober anywhere between 90 days and six months. Some dorms require students interview with recovery center counselors and current residents. Once accepted into a dorm (and its recovery program), students adhere to guidelines that can range from a signed contract to mandatory attendance at two 12-step meetings/ week. The use of drugs or alcohol, enabling someone else to use, or breaking another student’s confidentiality is strictly prohibited and grounds for dismissal.

How can I do that?
1. Do your homework! Consider what questions a student in recovery might ask about your campus and the sober dorm you want to create. 
2. Check out sites like the Association of Recovery in Higher Education or Transforming Youth Recovery for specific steps on how to create a program on campus.
3. Do those steps.