The College of New Jersey recently unveiled a substance-free housing unit dedicated to students in recovery – the only problem – only one person signed up.  The response was less than tepid and not what the organizers had anticipated.  

Christopher Freeman who heads the housing program and joined The College of New Jersey was under the false impression that there was more demand.  The ultimate response on the part of the student body was tepid at best and dismal at worst.  In surveys conducted by Freeman and his staff the results indicated that about 4% – which would’ve amounted to around 280 students expressed interest in the program prior to its roll out.

Addiction in College

The move is part of a broader political plan signed into effect by Governor Chris Christie last year to make it mandatory for Universities in New Jersey to have substance-free housing available for students suffering from addiction and needing a supportive environment to aid in their rehabilitation.  The timeline for all colleges within New Jersey to be onboard is by August 2019.  Only one other University aside from The College of New Jersey has put these measures into effect.  As it stands 4 colleges in New Jersey have yet to begin the process of offering sober living arrangements on their campus.  

New Jersey in particular has been the subject of hot debate surrounding the drug epidemic, especially in regards to the severe opiate and opioid issues afflicting its residents.  In an effort to show some initiative some universities have started to contemplate a strategy to offer more counseling and support resources to students.

In the instance of The College of New Jersey they were awarded a $245,000 five-year grant in 2014 by the the state in an effort to assist the endeavor.  Aside from the new sober living housing arrangements the school has other counseling services and activities for students in recovery to participate.  In the case of the sober housing development it may have just been an issue of premature execution.

Optimistic in the Face of Resistance

Freeman and other members of the sober community on the campus acknowledged the importance of cultivating a sense of community with students within the recovery programs.  It takes foundation set on the precedent of tight-knit support groups among students for sober living housing to truly resonate with college students.  

Despite the disappointing figures Freeman and his team are confident that with a little more effort in raising awareness a sober living housing for students remains a viable option worth continuing to pursue.

Keep Plugging Away
Now that the stigma of addiction is starting to wane slightly and acceptance of addiction as a disease by the public is growing it is the perfect time for programs like this to continue proliferating across the country and abroad.  We need to give every avenue and outlet possible to college students trying to tow the fine line of getting an education while remaining drug free.  If now we will continue to see the surge in overdose deaths and other drug related incidents on campus skyrocket.