Wayne State School of Social Work champions Collegiate Recovery Program to create a supportive and empowered college experience

Officially launched in October 2023, Wayne State University’s Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP), provides a supportive environment that reinforces a student’s decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance use and addiction on campus and beyond.

College campuses are considered “recovery hostile environments” that can make maintaining recovery and sobriety challenging. As students juggle both college life and recovery, it can be difficult for them to feel safe and supported.

“It’s not uncommon for students who are in recovery to feel out of place on a college campus, so it’s important that they have a place they feel they belong,” said Erin Cox, LLMSW, the CRP’s newly appointed program coordinator.

Erin Cox headshot
CRP Program Coordinator Erin Cox

The program is made possible by funding through the Jamie Daniels Foundation in partnership with the Children’s Foundation. Ken Daniels and Lisa Daniels-Goldman established the Jamie Daniels Foundation in memory of their late son, Jamie, who was 23 when he died from an overdose while in a treatment facility in Florida. Colleagues from Wayne State’s School of Social Work and School of Medicine helped to secure the grants that make the program possible.

While Jeffrey Kuentzel, Ph.D., director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), is director of the Collegiate Recovery Program, the CRP is not a CAPS-affiliated program and has a dedicated space in the WSU Student Center. “It is not a clinical service at all,” he said. “It’s more of a peer-support service. It’s a big extension of the 12-step approach. For some people, that’s all they need — to go to 12-step meetings — to get support. But we’re going to provide a supplement to that that’s more fun and education oriented.”

According to research, approximately 4% of college campus populations in the US meet the criteria for substance use disorder or are in recovery. For Wayne State, that means nearly 1,000 students are likely to benefit from a CRP support network on campus. Wayne State’s CRP is focused on providing a safe, supportive and identity affirming space that ensures students do not have to sacrifice their recovery for school or their schooling for recovery.

“As a person in long-term recovery from substance abuse, I find that connecting with peers who are also in recovery has allowed me to stay plugged into that particular identity. Staying in touch with this part of myself is extremely important because the longer someone is in recovery, the more likely complacency becomes,” said Georgia, a student in recovery. “In other words, being active in a group of people who are recovering from substance use prevents relapse. Our weekly meetings have given me a sense of community and purpose on campus, where I feel like my presence matters. I look forward to it because it is among these people that I feel most comfortable when I am on campus.”   

CAPS and CRP Director Jeff Kuentzel
CAPS and CRP Director Jeff Kuentzel

The program, still in its earliest stages, is currently intended to support undergraduate and graduate students who are in abstinence-based recovery. Cox hopes to see it grow to offer support to students who are “sober curious” or allies who are interested in participating in sober social events.

“We are here for students, and we make it a priority to meet people where they’re at,” said Cox, whose own journey through recovery gives her a distinct insight into the students’ experiences. “We want them to know that they don’t have to come to the group meetings to get support – I am a resource, and their peers are resources. We hope this program will grow through student-to-student interaction and word of mouth. Just being there for each other can go a long way in recovery. I’m excited to help foster those relationships and I can’t wait to see how this program grows and evolves.” 

A pillar of the Wayne State University’s Prosperity Agenda, launched by President Kimberly Andrews Espy during her March 2024 investiture ceremony, is to empower health for our urban neighborhoods. The university’s position as a top-tier urban public research university offers opportunities to understand and confront real urban health challenges, including substance use. The CRP is among the programs at Wayne State that will help improve the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for students and the greater community.

The School of Social Work has been invested in getting the CPR up and running at Wayne State from the start. With the support of Social Work Doctoral Graduate Michael Broman and Social Work Doctoral Student Emily Pasman the CPR grant application came together. The School continued to support the growth of the CPR at Wayne State through the donation of space for weekly CPR meetings throughout the 2023-24 academic year.

“College can be challenging for anyone, but for students in recovery, navigating academics and social life while staying sober can feel overwhelming. CRPs provide a safe space where students can connect with peers who understand their struggles. This sense of belonging and support is vital to help students stay on track with their recovery and thrive in college. I am proud of the role that the School of Social work has played in bringing a CPR to Wayne State,” said WSU Social Work Acting Dean Patterson.  

CRP Program Coordinator Erin Cox presenting at the 2024 WSU School of Social Work Annual Research Symposium
CRP Program Coordinator Erin Cox presenting at the 2024 WSU School of Social Work Annual Research Symposium

“Universities are increasingly recognizing the challenges college students face in recovery. Collegiate Recovery Programs provide recovery support services that enable students to continue their education while managing their recovery,” said School of Social Work Professor, Graduate Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Use Studies (CADUS) Coordinator and CRP Advisory Team member Stella Resko. “We are grateful to the Jamie Daniels and Children's foundations for their financial support in establishing the CRP at Wayne State University.” 

Students looking for more information, meeting times and how to join, should contact Cox at erincox@wayne.edu, visit the CRP website, and follow the program on FacebookInstagram and via Get Involved.

Students who are not in recovery but are interested in being involved can join the student organization Warriors in Recovery, which is open to those in recovery and those who are recovery allies. The group provides social events and volunteer opportunities alongside the CRP. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use or seeking recovery support, Wayne State offers consultations with counseling and psychological services (CAPS) afterhours phone support (313-577-2277) and various campus health support clinical support opportunities. 

Writer: Sarah Freeman, Editor: Betsy Vanderstelt

Faculty spotlight

← Back to listing