Recovery in College

What comes to mind when you think of recovery? Perhaps you think of being in recovery from drug or alcohol use. While this is part of what it can mean to be in recovery, it can encompass many more things as well. For instance, someone can be in recovery from a mental health challenge, an eating disorder, a traumatic experience, among other things. Anyone can be in recovery and oftentimes you may not know that someone identifies as being in recovery, and college students are no exception to this; anyone including college students can be in recovery.

Being a college student who identifies as being in recovery can present additional challenges. Many people, students, staff, and professors alike, may not understand what it’s like to be in recovery and to be a student. Especially now in a virtual environment, many of the preexisting challenges are merely exacerbated. It can be difficult to self-advocate for the necessary support as students may not know what resources are available to them, may be unsure of how to ask for support, might be anxious about self-disclosing information, or may be unaware they need support in the first place. Additionally, oftentimes it seems like a big part of the college experience revolves around alcohol or drug use. This can be a hard arena to navigate, especially if people around you encourage or pressure you to drink. In fact, colleges/universities are known as “recovery hostile environments” given the nature of what is normalized and glamorized. Going through college while in recovery can be a uniquely challenging experience. Whether it be substance use, mental health, or another form of recovery, it may be difficult to find a community that truly understands that experience.

DePaul offers the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) as a resource and place of support for those who identify as being in recovery. This is an excellent place to find support among other college students who identify as being in recovery. The group meets weekly on Thursdays, 5-6:30pm, and has been operating virtually this past year. While some in recovery may attend off-campus meetings as well, many of the group’s members find it helpful to be able to talk with other peers in recovery who are also college students. For example, it can feel very validating to not only know other peers who are sober but also other folks who are sober and understand the pressure of finals week. For those who are in recovery, here are a few tips to consider:


If you don’t identify as being in recovery, but want to know how you can better support those who are in recovery, here are some ways to be a better recovery ally:

  • Take HPW’s Recovery Ally Training (Register on DeHUB).
  • Believe and support those in recovery by being understanding, listening, and caring.
  • Respect boundaries – if someone doesn’t want to share any piece of their recovery journey with you, respect that!
  • Avoid normalizing or glamorizing substance use. Substance use is not an inherent part of the college experience. Normalize sobriety, glamorize substance-free fun, have sober options at parties, make folks who don’t engage with substances feel included.
  • Know other resources that you can offer to folks who may be interested in recovery.

If you are interested in DePaul’s CRC, have any questions, want to learn more, or are looking for support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, we are always here for you!


Office of Health Promotion and Wellness


Phone: (773) 325 – 7129




Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @healthydepaul


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