The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday October 18th

UNC looks into nationally recognized substance abuse programs

Nationally recognized recovery programs for alcohol and substance abuse could soon be available to students at UNC.

The University is currently looking into meeting qualifications to become certified as a school with a recognized recovery program, said Dean Blackburn, assistant dean of students.

He said a group of students and administrators began exploring different programs, such as the Association of Recovery Schools and the Collegiate Recovery Community, last fall.

Blackburn said administrators might know what direction the University will take as early as the end of the semester.

“The fastest growing population of people in America developing alcoholism right now is in the 18 to 24 age range,” Blackburn wrote in an email.

He said a campus UNC’s size could have 40 to 50 students who have struggled with alcohol or other substances to the point that they might have sought counseling or treatment.

“I work with one to three students a semester who withdraw to seek substance abuse treatment and counseling, or who are applying to re-enter each fall,” he wrote in the email.

Blackburn said the number of students he works with might increase if students thought the University was more supportive of their medical needs.

“There is some growing interest from a small group of students on campus to explore this possibility further,” Blackburn wrote in the email.

According to results from an anonymous survey given annually to a random group of undergraduates nationwide, the amount of alcohol use reported among the UNC population is slightly below the national average, he said.

Texas Tech University has already created a model program for treating alcohol abuse — the Collegiate Recovery Community.

Kristen Harper, replication program coordinator for the program, said it offers students access to services such as academic advising and counseling and is funded primarily by outside sources.

Harper said Texas Tech’s program has so far been popular.

“We actually had to turn away 25 applicants last spring because we have so many students wanting to come to TTU because of our program,” Harper said.

Blackburn said UNC is looking to become a part of Texas Tech’s recovery community program, but is also exploring other counseling programs, such as the Association of Recovery Schools.

Lisa Laitman, a board member of the association, said her organization doesn’t provide services but helps schools start their own programs.

“ARS provides start-up support to students, staff or faculty on a campus who may be interested in starting a recovery program on their campus,” she said.

Blackburn said UNC offers resources and support for students at all stages of substance abuse, but those are not national programs.

Staff Writers Caley Scheppegrell and Yueqin Chen contributed reporting.

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