SHS forms first recovery group created to combat addiction on campus

Kalpana Gopalkrishnan | Contributing Reporter

The Habif Health and Wellness Center created Washington University’s first recovery group to provide a space for students recovering from substance abuse and other addictions.

The $10,000 grant, donated by the group Transforming Youth Recovery, put the idea into motion under the direction of the Assistant Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Programming Amanda Hoylman at Student Health Services (SHS). As various universities across the country continue to provide more resources for students suffering from addictions, Hoylman believes that it is important for Washington University to have its own program.

This past summer, Hoylman collaborated with other SHS employees to draft and finalize the grant proposal, which was approved at the end of the fall 2017 semester. The group will be structured through the suggestions and needs of students interested in the program.

“The hope is to hear directly from students who are interested in this support group and build the group with their guidance,” Hoylman said. “I want to know how we can help them succeed with their recovery throughout college. If they want weekly meetings, group counseling, organized, sober social events, we can plan it, but I want to make sure it is what the students want first.”

According to Hoylman, the main obstacle the group faces is maintaining privacy while attempting to publicize the program.

“The biggest challenge to creating the recovery group so far is balancing promoting the group along with the desire to keep the group a safe and private space for those wishing to be a part of it,” Hoylman said.

The recovery group held their first event, a meet-and-greet, Wednesday evening. Through events such as these, Hoylman hopes to create a safe and inclusive atmosphere. The group has received positive responses from students, even those who do not plan on directly participating in the group.

“I think it’s important to have a recovery group on campus because it gives students the opportunity to share their story with like-minded individuals, and hopefully, that pairing will allow students to better help their peers,” freshman Cassidy Rose said.

However, some students have doubts about the effectiveness of the program.

“I think [the recovery group] sounds great in theory, but no one would actually go because first you have to accept you have an addiction, which undergrads struggle with,” freshman Nupur Singh said.

Contrary to this, Hoylman believes that students will attend the recovery group based on the amount of support she’s received.

“Everyone, from students, to faculty and staff, have been praising the creation and establishment of this group,” Hoylman said. “I have had people from across campus reaching out asking how they can help support the group moving forward.”