Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Semester Finals Bring Added Pressures for College Students on the Road to Alcohol- and Drug-Free Sobriety

/PRNewswire/ -- Research shows that most college campuses continue to struggle with the prevalence of alcohol and other drug-use problems. For those collegians just out of treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction, the danger of relapse in this type of environment can be significant—and only exacerbated by the stress and anxiety associated with taking final semester exams. However, The Center for Addiction Recovery, a joint partnership between Willingway Hospital and Georgia Southern University, is proving successful at lowering the risk for recovering students, both during finals and throughout the year.

Housed on campus within The Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH), the Center has enrolled 44 students since its opening in August 2008. This past spring, the Center graduated its first class—one that boasted an average institutional GPA of 3.74—and became the first on-campus recovery initiative to record a zero number of relapses for students within the program.

"The main issue facing a collegiate recovering population is lack of structured addiction and recovery programs, particularly those built on peer support," said Kristen Harper, M.Ed., director of the Center for Addiction Recovery. "Our partnership with Willingway Hospital, through its Foundation, has allowed us to afford recovering students the opportunity to enjoy and leverage the full collegiate experience while minimizing the risk of relapse that often peaks during stressful periods such as exam weeks. The fact that we've had a relapse rate of zero percent within the program speaks volumes to the difference a strong on-site support system can make. These types of numbers are simply unheard of on college campuses."

Almost 25 percent of all individuals entering drug or alcohol treatment in the United States are between the ages of 17 and 26.(1) It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 students in recovery currently attending a college or university.(2) Yet, there are only eight collegiate campuses that offer full-blown addiction recovery programs.

"This is a miniscule number if you consider that there are approximately 7,000 higher education institutions, enrolling more than 15 million students," said Harper.

As More People Ages 17-26 Enter Treatment, Colleges Need to Do More

The Willingway Foundation, the non-profit affiliate of Willingway Hospital, donated start-up funding to initially develop the Center and continues to drive fundraising efforts that contribute to the daily operations. The long-term goal of the Willingway Foundation is to generate enough funding so that the Center will be known as the Dot and John Mooney Center for Addiction Recovery.

"The Willingway staff is enthusiastic about the success of the Center," said Jimmy Mooney, CEO of Willingway Hospital and board member of the Willingway Foundation. "It is such a reward for our staff to see the other side of addiction, which is recovery in process, with alcoholics and addicts going on to lead productive lives and doing things like returning to college and becoming contributing members of our community. The Center for Addiction Recovery assists with this process, and we are thrilled to be able to support them in their efforts."

Recent graduate Joshua H.* credits the Center for providing the necessary programs and services that facilitated his academic success. The 25-year-old Kentuckian received treatment for alcoholism as an inpatient at Willingway Hospital initially as an 18-year-old. He later enrolled in a private college in Kentucky and relapsed a year later, returning to Willingway Hospital for additional treatment. Willingway staff helped facilitate his enrollment at Georgia Southern, which he entered with a 2.6 GPA. He graduated with a degree in psychology and an institutional GPA of 3.5. He is attending law school at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., this fall.

"After unsuccessfully trying to make a go of it at another school that offered no support system for recovering students, I can absolutely say The Center for Addiction Recovery at Georgia Southern was a key element to my college success," said Joshua H. "The Center helped me build my self-confidence, develop important decision-making skills and foster healthier, more supportive relationships. These are all things I can use as I move into the next phase of my life."

About Willingway Hospital

Willingway Hospital is a privately owned, 40-bed hospital specializing in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. Founded in 1971 by the late John Mooney, Jr., M.D. and his wife, the late Dot Mooney, the hospital is recognized as one of the first treatment facilities in the United States. It is located in Statesboro, Ga., on a serene and wooded 11-acre campus. Willingway offers a full range of services including assessments, medical detoxification, inpatient/residential, intensive outpatient, family counseling, extended treatment for men and women and continuing care. For more information, visit

* In support of the traditions that coincide with 12-step recovery programs, we keep any references to, media interviews with and images of patients in treatment or recovery anonymous.

(1) Cleveland, Harris & Wiebe, "Substance Abuse Recovery in College," 2010.

(2) Harris, Baker, Kimball, Shumway, "Achieving Systems-based Sustained Recovery: A Comprehensive Model for Collegiate Recovery Communities," 2005.

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