Herkimer College aims to help students struggling with substance-use recovery with new on-campus program

Herkimer College students struggling with recovery from substance use can now get additional support, thanks to the recently launched collegiate recovery program (CRP).

Called Students Thriving at Recovery (STAR), the mission of the program is to create a culture of empowerment, support, and opportunity for Herkimer College students in recovery to thrive. The program is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

“When I submitted an alcohol screening to incoming residential freshman in the Fall 2018 semester, of the 45 students that took the screening 13 percent of them identified themselves as being ‘in recovery,’” Herkimer College Prevention Specialist Laura Jacquays said. “That was a huge wake up call for me that we need to get recovery services on the College campus.”

The College was awarded a $20,000 grant in January 2019 by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to help form the CRP. The funds went toward Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) support group training, recovery coaching training, developing “natural high weekends” — like a trip to Syracuse’s Destiny USA mall — and bringing various health and wellness classes to campus.

About 92 to 94 percent of students who participate in a CRP maintain their recovery and do not return to substance use, according to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. Similarly, 68 percent of surveyed former CRP students said participating in the programs helped prepare them for careers, while 81 percent said their CRP prepared them for the path toward post-grad recovery, according to association data.

In establishing a CRP on campus, Herkimer College joins a growing nationwide movement. As of May 2019, there were 131 CRPs in the United States, and 30 of SUNY’s 64 campuses had developed CRPs.

“I think this is a good initiative for the College because we want to promote that we are an all-inclusive college, that we welcome all types of students no matter what their struggles are, including that of recovery of substance use,” Jacquays said.

As part of the initiative, Building I of the College Hill residence hall has been designated a Health and Wellness residence hall, where students must sign a contract stating they will be substance free in order to stay in the building. Similarly, Room 223 of the Robert McLaughlin College Center has been made the official Collegiate Recovery Room for group sessions, meetings, quiet space, and more.

The College’s Recovery Team spearheading the future of the CRP will continue with regular SMART meetings in Fall 2019 and plans to partner with Catholic Charities on the new Recovery Center in the village of Herkimer.

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