Robert Ashford, a master’s of social work candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and Jimmy Hatzell, a Penn State alumnus involved in the startup of the university’s collegiate recovery program said that Philadelphia has the largest prevalence of collegiate recovery communities, in terms of small groups and full-blown programs.

“There is no other spot in the country that has access to what we have in Philadelphia,” Ashford said. “It’s really unique.”

Collegiate recovery, as defined by Ashford and Hatzell, is a process of change through which individuals in college improve their health and wellness and live a self-directed life.

Ashford also gave us interesting statistics on collegiate recovery and put it in perspective for the student population of Temple University.

3,958 students at Temple fall on the spectrum of substance use disorder from moderate to severe, and 13,062 of students here are likely to experience an impactful mental health concern during their college career.

Overall, an estimated 17,020 students currently enrolled at Temple can directly benefit from a collegiate recovery program, which the university is lacking in, at least a concise, overarching program.

There are several collegiate recovery program’s in the Philadelphia area, including at St. Joe’s, Community College of Philadelphia, Penn, Drexel University, University of the Sciences and Villanova University.

“Not all of these programs are quite there yet,” Hatzell said. “It’s a problem across the board in social services. A box gets checked that says ‘this is enough.'”

Nationwide, there are 170 collegiate recovery programs open or in the process of opening. These programs have been replicated through the use of two distinct methods: the Texas Tech Mutual-Aid Model and the University of North Texas Integrated Behavioral Health Model.

The services collegiate recovery programs provide include recovery case management, academic advising and mentoring, scholarship assistance, recovery-focused residence, weekly peer-facilitated mutual aid meetings, pro-social activities and much more.

For Hatzell, Penn State made a referral him to receive treatment after he walked into the student conduct at 8 a.m. drunk.

“I learned recovery was possible for a young person,” Hatzell said. “I found out recovery was cool. It’s something people don’t talk about a lot. For me, I was someone at 19 struggling with their identity and my friends were using drugs, so that being in recovery could be cool was important to me.”

After taking time away from Penn State, Hatzell went back with a roommate who was also in recovery since the university didn’t have a recovery residence yet.

Ashford, who is also in recovery, said the stigma around addiction at Penn is nothing like he has ever sene.

“They don’t see drugs and alcohol as an issue,” Ashford said. “There’s a bar in Wharton, a pop-up bar in the school of design and even in the social work school.”

Ashford wants to start a drop-in center for people dealing with addiction at Penn. He wants one that will have a dedicated staff and scholarships for the students.

“You walk into someone in recovery everyday whether you know it or not,” Ashford said.