The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) announced new funding for addiction resources in higher education through its Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) initiative. In collaboration with the Association for Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE), institutions that join the effort can receive professional development and expert consulting services and apply for a Foundation grant to develop or expand their collegiate recovery model. The Foundation aims to expand ARHE’s model to campuses across the region with support to other schools that join the effort.
Two institutions are currently designing programs to address the needs of their student population:
- Saint Joseph’s University intends to grow their current program, The Flock, to serve more students in recovery and add a new element to support recovery ally training.
- Temple University plans to create new components of a Collegiate Recovery Model to address some unique challenges faced by students in recovery.
Support for collegiate recovery builds on the Foundation’s Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) program which launched in 2017 to address issues related to substance use disorder stigma, prevention, and treatment. Since then, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation has invested more than $3 million in southeastern Pennsylvania to address the opioid crisis through grant funding, the promotion and expansion of safe medication disposal, the Someone You Know® de-stigmatization campaign, and research.
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2019, 840,000 full-time students attending college in the U.S. will be in recovery. However, only 100 schools have formalized recovery programs for their students. Collegiate recovery programs are designed to meet the specific needs of students through events, mutual aid groups, and recovery resources. Other collegiate recovery research shows that students in these programs have nearly a 30 percent better graduation rate than the institution-wide average, nearly 90 percent versus 61 percent, respectively.
To encourage others
“Many universities recognize the need for a collegiate recovery program, but they lack the resources to make it happen. We hope that by leading this initiative, it encourages other higher education institutions to support students who suffer from substance use disorders,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. “We have the responsibility to help students succeed in life however possible. We will continue to erase the stigma of addiction and help people, particularly the next generation, heal.”
“College can be a very overwhelming experience for any young adult. That becomes even more challenging when someone is in recovery, not to mention during the current pandemic which has created isolation and stress for many students,” said Tim Rabolt, Executive Director of ARHE, the only association in the U.S. that exclusively represents collegiate recovery programs, collegiate recovery communities, the faculty and staff who support them, and the students who represent them. “Having a safe place, peer support, credentialed counselors and a structured program can make the world of difference from succeeding in recovery to failing.”
Resources to connect
“We’re very excited to be working with the IBC Foundation and ARHE to support our students in their recovery journey,” said Marci Berney, Director, Office of Student Outreach and Support at Saint Joseph’s University. “We’re looking forward to offering students resources that will help them connect with others in recovery, as well as focused events, retreats and programs that holistically address students’ needs.”
Tim Rabolt provides additional insight into addiction issues on college campuses in a new episode of the Someone You Know® podcast series, which will launch its second season this year focused on youth and addiction.