Students in Recovery

— Allie Grasgreen  The thought of college only ever crossed Wil Young’s mind in…

Georgia (Jul 13, 2011)

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Allie Grasgreen 

The thought of college only ever crossed Wil Young’s mind in the sense that he thought he had no chance of going. He’d been expelled from high school in Texas for using drugs on campus, and never walked at graduation. “After that,” he says, “I was really kind of turned off of the whole education thing and was really down on myself and really shameful. I didn’t think I had a shot of going back to school.”

Young spent the next two years drinking, doing drugs and getting into trouble. Finally, in 2003, he entered rehab, and that was where he heard about Texas Tech University’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. Considered the gold standard of campus recovery programs, the center gives students who struggled with addictions the personal, social and academic support they need to succeed in college. Still, Young was doubtful. “I thought it was a great thing, but I didn’t think it would ever have any part in my life because I didn’t think I had any hope in education." …  …

Most colleges have programs to discourage binge drinking or the use of illegal drugs. But recovery programs focus on those for whom addictions have become a serious issue, and who are seeking something much closer to rehab than just a periodic educational program. Slowly, more and more colleges have started what most of them call “recovery communities,” where students trying to overcome addictions can get specialized counseling and support that’s typically not available at traditional health centers.

“The general evolution of these collegiate recovery programs probably started in the mid-'80s, and they were very limited and very contained,” said Teresa Wren Johnston, director of the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery at Kennesaw State University. But, thanks in part to Texas Tech’s replication model, which provides a curriculum to help other colleges create, establish and expand their own programs, the centers are on the upswing nationwide. In the early 2000s, one or two programs were opening annually, Johnston said, and in the past five years professionals in the business began to recognize a need for some sort of collaboration between the 20 or so programs. …  .


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit