How On-Campus Programs Are Helping College Students Stay Sober

While the specific reasons for initial drug use can definitely vary widely from individual to individual, there is usually one thing held in common by all drug users: they are trying to use drugs in order to solve some problem in their life that they feel either unwilling or unable to handle on their own. One could then draw the conclusion that any time an individual experiences stress or difficulty, this could potentially lead them into drug use if they feel they have no other option.

Unfortunately, one fact about drug use that few individuals truly understand or consider is the fact that these chemical substances cannot actually handle the problems for which they are taken. Worse, they are a sort of crutch that actually cripples the individual more and more over time, until the individual quite literally cannot survive without them. This means that an individual who turns to drug use early in their life may suffer from drug abuse and addiction problems long into the future since they’ve learned no other way to cope with and make it through life’s challenges. Some colleges are now seeking to change this trend with on-campus programs that help students stay sober.

Support for Sobriety

Sierra Castedo-Rodgers is the director of University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Students in Recovery, and she knows firsthand the destructive effects of drug abuse and addiction. Castedo-Rodgers achieved full recovery from drug abuse and addiction in 2012, when she herself was a graduate student at UT Austin. Her own experiences caused her to change her plans – from working toward a Ph.D. to working toward leading an on-campus program that would help other students stay sober from drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

Castedo-Rodgers admits that by the time one reaches the point where they are entirely addicted to drugs, life is no longer fun. They aren’t drinking or taking drugs in order to party or fit in, they are drinking or taking drugs because it is a compulsion that they simply cannot overcome. It is, in Castedo-Rodger’s opinion, a very confining experience. Unfortunately, reaching out for the help one needs to overcome these problems can sometimes be just as difficult, due in no small part to a social stigma surrounding drug abuse and addiction. This can mean that some individuals who need and desire help to achieve and maintain their sobriety yet remain quiet about their problems in order to avoid the shame and guilt they feel comes with admitting their problems to others.

With Castedo-Rodger’s help, the Center for Students in Recovery organizes a variety of events for UT Austin students, including meetings, sober tailgating parties and various service projects. Currently, roughly one hundred students are participating in the program, gathering each week on campus for group meetings, meditation and yoga sessions. The intent is, of course, to allow these individuals to discuss their recovery openly, without fear of guilt or shame, but also learn how to cope with the difficulties of life and to enjoy life without the use of drug substances.

Spreading Hope

UT Austin’s Center for Students For Recovery began in 2004, at a time when there were only four other similar programs running on college campuses around the United States. Today it is estimated that there are at least one hundred thirty-five of these types of programs throughout the country. This is a hopeful sign that there is a growing commitment among colleges to help students remain sober. Those colleges that do have recovery programs, like UT Austin, have found that they have increased retention rates, slowly eroding stereotypes about being party schools and much more. This means that more individuals are successfully going to and graduating from college with their feet firmly on the ground, ready for healthy, happy and productive futures.