Virginia to expand recovery programs at 8 colleges, universities

Published: Oct. 30, 2019 at 6:58 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday, that $675,000 in federal grant money will go towards expanding collegiate recovery programs at eight universities in Virginia.

The federal State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding will be given to Virginia Commonwealth University to help expand substance use recovery programs at Longwood University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union University and Washington and Lee University.

“Young people who are often living away from home for the first time can be particularly vulnerable, and college campuses can be difficult places if you’re trying to avoid drinking or using substances,” said Northam. “Collegiate recovery programs provide critical resources to help students in recovery have a successful college experience and give them the tools they need to be healthy and thriving well beyond graduation.”

VCU’s Rams in Recovery will serve as a model for the additional programs.

“Most college campuses are abstinent hostile environments, that’s not the standard on campuses,” explained Program Coordinator Tom Bannard. “People seeking recovery need some additional supports to be able to thrive on campuses.”

Rams in Recovery offers space for recovery meetings, organize events and trips, offer recovery housing and scholarships. Their clubhouse on Cathedral Place is meant to be a space for the community.

“We believe students shouldn’t have to choose between their recovery and their education,” said Bannard. “This is a second chance at life and at school for people, they’re just passionate and they’re the students you want at your university.”

Bannard says six of the universities receiving grant funding already have programs that they will work to expand, two schools are starting from the ground up.

“What this grant allowed, is it put recovery on the map at some other schools and on the radar of their administration," he said.

Bannard says Rams in Recovery currently has 60 active members and has grown due to university and community support of their efforts.

“The students are just inspiring," he explained.

Over the next two years, each of the eight schools will receive support through the manner of site visits, daylong retreats, and monthly collaboration calls to help develop the programs.

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