“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s classic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a sailor stranded at sea is in a difficult situation. Although he’s dying of thirst, he can’t drink the salt water that surrounds him because it would make him even more thirsty and eventually kill him. College students who are in recovery from addiction may face similar feelings at school. On many campuses, they are surrounded by alcohol and other substances and may be tempted to use. However, they know that giving in to temptation puts them at risk.
In recent years, many universities have shifted their focus from loosely enforcing drinking age and drug possession laws to proactively addressing binge drinking and other kinds of substance abuse. Yet sporting events, student organizations (like dining clubs, fraternities, or sororities), and other campus traditions are associated with drinking or sometimes even drug use.
So how can a student in recovery, or a student who wants to avoid using substances, cope? More and more colleges and universities worldwide now feature campus recovery communities, or CRCs. Their goal is to offer students a meaningful college experience without participating in a culture of drinking or drug use. CRCs rely on both the school’s support and active student and staff involvement in mentoring, and they are particularly helpful to students who have returned to school after being sidetracked by substance use.
Because CRCs rely on self-help and peer support, WRAP can be a wonderful resource. In fact, in a recent article in North Carolina State University’s student newspaper, the founder of NC State’s CRC encouraged students dealing with addiction to create a WRAP with help from the university’s counseling center. WRAP for Addictions provides a step-by-step guide.
College studies can be stressful, and the number of students facing mental health problems in higher education is rising. School counseling centers have found WRAP to be a useful tool in helping students cope, especially for people who want to maintain their mental health after going through a crisis. McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, offers WRAP training sessions, each co-led by a student and a staff member. The university reports that the training sessions have been full, suggesting that WRAP is a popular, non-stigmatizing option for students.
Has WRAP helped you in your studies? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story on our Facebook page.
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.