Collegiate Recovery Programs: Meeting a campus need for recovery communities

May 2, 2016

Gabrielle Rodriguez

President, RooCovery
University of Missouri – Kansas City

In April, the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) hosted their 7th National Collegiate Recovery Conference  in Atlanta, Georgia.
With much gratitude I was able to attend the conference as a student in recovery, President of RooCovery, a newly formed Collegiate Recovery Community at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), and a representative of the ATTC Network Coordinating Office

The conference provided information regarding Collegiate Recovery Communities (CRC) and Programs (CRP) by inviting experts from all fields relevant to education, addiction, and recovery to offer their expertise and support. The workshop topics focused on building a CRC/CRP, collaboration, leadership, sustainability, and inclusion. (Click here to view the presentation slides.)

The results of the 2015 National Collegiate Recovery Program Profiles Study (Jeff A. Jones, Ph.D., Emily Eisenhart, M.S.S.C., Brianna Charles, B.S., & Nathan Walker, B.A.) were discussed in a workshop. A few key points:  
  • CRCs and CRPs are part of a recovery movement that has been active since 1983, but has shown a growth spurt in the last six years. 
  • From 1983 – 2009 only 1 or 2 programs started each year. 
  • 4 new programs began in 2010.
  • 14 new programs began in 2012.
These numbers prove that recovery works and community is needed on campuses across the states. There are also two  programs located in states that mandate running a CRC.  In my opinion, that is a huge step in the right direction.

As president of a newly organized CRC, my goal at this conference was to engage with as many members of CRCs around the U.S. to ask questions and raise concerns about my own university. My two main concerns are earning administration buy-in and support.
Why "RooCovery?" Ask Kasey the Kangaroo,
the UMKC mascot.
The positivity and encouragement I received from clinicians, counselors, directors and members of established CRCs/CRPs was incredibly inspiring. They encouraged me to never give up, to "build it and the people will come." The best advice given was that the CRC is not about me, but for that one person that the program might help.

Building a CRC at UMKC has been a dream of mine for a few years. In 2010 I was a transfer student to UMKC from a junior college and at the beginning of the end of my dependence on alcohol. In 2011 I dropped out following a summer study abroad program. In 2012, I found a twelve-step program and have been sober ever since. It was twice as hard to establish a group on campus without being a currently enrolled student, so I re-applied to UMKC. In the fall semester of 2015 I returned to complete my Bachelor’s in Spanish Language and Literature. In September, I received an email from our Counseling Center asking students if there was any interest in starting a CRC. I immediately and enthusiastically replied yes! In that moment I realized that I am exactly where I need to be. Also in the fall, I was able to connect with ATTC Network Coordinating office,  which has become a part-time student worker position. This semester RooCovery was approved and recognized as an official student organization at UMKC. We have weekly meeting(s) and are collaborating with other student organizations. We are working to gain visibility and support from our administrators and community.

For more information on CRPs/CRCs, check out
where you may
also find information on the 7th Annual Collegiate Recovery Conference, future events, resources, and membership.

Related Resource: The Bridge, Fall 2015:  Collegiate Recovery Programs 

Does your community have a Collegiate Recovery Program?  Tell us about it in the comments section below. 

Gabrielle Rodriguez is a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and president of the newly formed Collegiate Recovery Program there, RooCovery.  

Recovery from a faith-based perspective

April 27, 2016

Rev. David Martins
Interim Director
Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES)

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
These words are taken from The Diary of Anne Frank. While they were not intended for the Recovery Community, they certainly apply. As one of the 23 million Americans in recovery, I can tell you firsthand the truth that it is indeed good news--in fact, it's incredible news, to continue to discover the latent potential of how great life is, and how much we can love. The journey to recovery is strengthened by the knowledge that we are part of a community, and not trying to get through this experience of rebirth alone.

For the person of faith, this experience we describe as "Recovery" should sound familiar. For the Christian, the phrase "good news," brings to mind the word "Gospel": the good news of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and Easter the promise of rebirth. For the Jewish community, "good news" is the promise of a Messiah that will inaugurate a world of peace and justice, where "the lion will lie down with the lamb." For the adherents of Islam, the Uawn al-Qiuamah, is "the Day of Religion" or "the Last Hour," when the judgement of Allah will come upon the earth, rewarding the just with eternal life.

We could go on and on about the experience of rebirth as it is understood by the major religious denominations. We could likewise identify the countless ways that some form of rejuvenation drives the spiritual paths of those who identify as "not religions," but none the less in pursuit of some form of transcendental peace. It would seem that the goal of faith, and the goal of recovery, is more or less the same: serenity, joy, and renewal...and being able to engage the pathway to it, is certainly "good news."

It is for this reason that the creation of FIRE (Faith Infused Recovery Efforts) seemed so natural. As folks journey down the road of their own recovery, we discover quickly that it is not merely a physical experience of some form of abstinence; rather, recovery is about engaging in the spiritual side of ourselves. It is about satisfying the needs of the intangible part of ourselves. It is about discovering that love, greatness, and potential that Anne Frank wrote about. For anyone of any faith expression, that life of faith is intrinsically bound up in this spiritual journey; and a strong program of recovery requires spiritual wellness.

FIRE is a grassroots alliance within the Recovery Community Organization for the State of Rhode Island (RICARES) charged with providing support, resources, and service to those who seek to engage in recovery from a faith-based perspective. Through a partnership between FIRE and the New England Addiction Technology Center (ATTC) a video titled Addressing Addiction and Supporting Recovery Through Faith was produced. The video, designed to start a conversation, contains interviews with faith-based leaders in which they describe their role in the light of the addiction epidemic. In March 2016, FIRE and the New England ATTC held a premier of the video, followed by a panel discussion with some of the faith-based leaders who appeared in the 16-minute video and moderated by Dr. David Lewis, founder of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University.

A stepping-off point for much more, this video gave clergy the opportunity to declare their commitment to help stop the stigma and stereotype that surrounds the recovery community. What was the conversation?

How can we help?
What are we doing now?
What can we do differently?

The overwhelming response was that we need to come together across the many aisles, dogmas, and details that separate us, and work together towards this common goal. More than that, the common responsibility of all religious leaders to shepherd and love the people entrusted to our care was also a point of discussion. There is not a single faith expression that does not demand attention and care to our neighbor, and the sad truth of addiction is that our neighbors are dying. 

Where will FIRE go next? The sky's the limit! Everything from support groups, worship services oriented toward recovery, and the use of facilities are all things that are happening already; and FIRE is eager to walk together into a future that is saturated with recovery and spiritual wellness. Do you want to learn more about FIRE and how you can introduce a faith-based recovery into your community? Contact Dr. David Martins at, and be part of this dynamic aspect of the recovery community! 

Does your organization work with an interfaith community to support people in recovery?  Share your story in the comments section below. 

Related resources: The Mid-America ATTC produces faith-based community bulletin inserts for Problem Gambling Awareness Moth (March) Alcohol Awareness Month (April), and Hepatitis C Awareness Month (May). You can view them all on the Resources page of the Mid-America ATTC website.

SAMHSA also offers the following resource:
Preventing and Addressing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Handbook for Clergy

Guest Blogger Father David Martins serves as Pastor of St. Therese Old Catholic Church in West Warwick, RI. He has also worked at Youth Pride, Inc., The Family Care Community Parthernship, and Anchor ED program. He studied at Providence College/Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Mount Mary Seminary and University, and Creighton University. 

Mythbusters: Staff don't want to help find solutions. Or do they?

April 4, 2016

Thomas F. Hilton, Ph.D. 

A frequently-mentioned myth NIATx coaches encounter is the perception by managers that their staff do not want to help find solutions to the organization’s problems. That impression may seem valid to managers because they tend to focus on matters external to daily operations while staff, on the other hand, have to live with annoying redundancies, conflicting demands, and other inefficiencies that the boss seems to ignore at their, and the clients’ expense.

Past attempts at change within the organization – or past resistance to change by managers – may have built a culture of suspicion and indifference in the workforce. When this is the case, management initiatives often flounder in the "Wait’n Sea" unless there is clear evidence that the staff are empowered to change how they do things.

Problem or Opportunity?

March 28, 2016

Disruption is a word often used to describe what's happening in health care today.  And providers are encouraged to "think outside the box" to adapt to this disruption.

But have you ever wondered just how to "think outside the box?"

In this five-minute video, Andrew Isham, research scientist at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (which also houses NIATx), offers a strategy: opportunity based thinking. It might be one way to think different and identify solutions that are sometimes so obvious they're easily overlooked.

For example, how did Steve Jobs found the solution to the problem of the stylus that was once ubiquitous with mobile devices?  Literally, at his fingertips.

This video was part of Isham's presentation for the BHBusiness Plus Innovator's Network at the National Council Conference, NatCon16.

How do you use opportunity based thinking in your organization? Has letting go of assumptions given you insight into opportunities?  Share your story in the comment section below.

Andrew Isham, M.S.,  is a researcher at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His focus is on the innovative adaptation of information technologies to support behavior change in people with chronic health conditions. Isham has a BS in mechanical engineering, a minor in psychology, and an MS in industrial and systems engineering, with a specialization in health systems engineering. In both the academic research and commercial realms, Andrew has experience and knowledge of many of the links in the health IT chain, including testing, implementation, patient/clinician engagement, and sustainability.

Other posts by Andrew Isham: Mobile Health: A Brave New World

Gambling Disorder and Women: Does Gender Make a Difference?

March 15, 2016

Christine Reilly
Senior Research Director

Today, it is widely accepted that examining the role of sex and gender in health is vital to conducting rigorous research, developing effective public health policies and enhancing clinical treatment. In the past, however, health research has not always adequately addressed sex and gender. This oversight was characteristic of early research on gambling addiction because so many investigations were focused on veterans and because many more men gambled than women. Although men still outnumber women as gamblers in the US, women are catching up, thanks in part to the expansion of legalized gambling during the past 30 years. During the past 20 years, gambling researchers have not only included women as research participants but also have increasingly addressed the role of gender in studies of gambling disorder. As is common in young fields of research, we still don’t have a strong consensus on the gender issue in the gambling field. Here are a few of the questions that are driving research on the relationship between gambling disorder and women.

Now is the Time: NAADAC Minority Fellowship Program for Addictions Counselors

March 10, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
Communications Coordinator, ATTC Network Coordinating Office
Editor, NIATx 

The NAADAC Minority Fellowship Program for Addiction Counselors (NMFP-AC), funded by SAMHSA, awards tuition stipends of up to $20,000 to qualified students who are eligible for graduation from an accredited Master’s program in addiction/substance use disorders counseling and are committed to working with minority or transition age clients (ages 18-25).

The goal of the fellowship is to build the addiction treatment workforce that treats underserved communities and populations, including minority populations, LGBT populations, and transition-age youth.

The program launched in 2014, selecting 13 fellows for the first cohort. Two of those fellows interviewed recently, Tanya Richem and Nil Shores, describe receiving the award as “life-changing.” 

Three Ways to Improve Transitions from Detox to Continuing Care

March 4, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
Communications Coordinator, ATTC Network Coordinating Office
Editor, NIATx

In fall 2014, baseline data showed that only 33% of  Ministry Behavioral Health clients in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, transferred from detoxification services to continuing care. Ministry Behavioral Health is a department of Ministry St. Michael’s Hospital. It works closely with the hospital’s inpatient mental health and acute care units, which include a detox department.
Participating in a NIATx project helped the Change Team boost continuation to continuing care to 63% by June 2015 - an increase of 91%.

How did they do it?  “Rapid-cycle testing was key,” says Change Leader Kathleen Olszewski, MBA, CRCE-I Manager of Business Operations at Ministry Behavioral Health.