Building a Collegiate Recovery Program: Robert Ashford and Jimmy Hatzell

Collegiate recovery programs (CRP) are becoming much more prevalent across the United States. Currently, there are 170 collegiate recovery programs open or in the process of opening, Robert Ashford said. Ashford is currently working towards a masters degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania and he also identifies as a person in long term recovery. He is also the founding program director of the University of North Texas collegiate recovery program, which is now frequently replicated by other colleges and universities who are implementing collegiate recovery programs. Ashford added that the Texas Tech mutual aid model is also often replicated.

Ashford added that 10 percent of students fall on the spectrum of substance use disorder from moderate to severe. 33 percent of students are also likely to experience a serious mental health concern during their college career, and 40 percent experience a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder.

Jimmy Hatzell graduated from Penn State, where he was president of the Penn State CRP program. He said it was very important for him during college to feel like a normal person while living on campus surrounded by drugs and alcohol. The Penn State CRP program gave Hatzell a safe place to go when he experienced cravings and needed support. Hatzell is now a chief technology officer at Life of Purpose Treatment in Florida. Life of Purpose treatment works towards bringing primary care treatment to college campuses across the United States.

Ashford explained that every CRP is different, but many of them have recovery residences or at least a recovery lounge for students, regular group and individual therapy, life skills classes and weekly peer facilitated meetings. The benefits of these services include improved academic performance, lower rates of relapse and an overall improved quality of life for students in recovery. Academic advising and mentoring, scholarship assistance and “sober fun” activies are also important components of a CRP program, Ashford added.

About the author

Meghan Costa

Meghan Costa studies journalism and psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She writes for the schools newspaper, The Temple News and works as an editorial intern at the office of the senior vice provost of strategic communications. After graduation, Meghan hopes to stay in Philadelphia and write for a magazine or newspaper. She would like to specialize in mental health reporting, but she is open to any and all opportunities that come her way. Meghan also has a strong passion for creative writing, and is always looking to collaborate with other creatives on projects of any kind. Some of her favorite writers include e.e Cummings, T.S. Elliot, and Kurt Vonnegut. Meghan is originally from West Chester, which is a suburb of the Philadelphia area. Contact Meghan at tuf87094@temple.edu.

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