Federal funding for collegiate recovery programs at UVA, others

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Virginia Commonwealth University is getting federal funding to help expand the substance use recovery programs at eight universities across Virginia.

Governor Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday that the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services awarded VCU a $675,000 federal State Opioid Response grant.

“Young people who are often living away from home for the first time can be particularly vulnerable, and college campuses can be difficult places if you're trying to avoid drinking or using substances,” he said. “Collegiate recovery programs provide critical resources to help students in recovery have a successful college experience and give them the tools they need to be healthy and thriving well beyond graduation.”

According to a release, a collegiate recovery program, or CRP, is an institutionally sanctioned and supported organization that provides a dedicated space and supportive environment for college students who are in recovery from substance abuse disorders.

The CRP at VCU, called Rams in Recovery, will be used as a model for and provide guidance and oversight to eight partner schools that will be developing and broadening their on-campus recovery communities.

Those universities are Longwood, Radford, Mary Washington, Richmond, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union, and Washington and Lee, as well as the University of Virginia.

“We only had a couple students coming in when we started Rams in Recovery, but we saw impacts almost immediately as the university and individual donors invested more in the program,” said Program Coordinator Tom Bannard. “Students thrive once you start supporting them in recovery. Their success attracts other struggling students into the program and they motivate other people in recovery to come back to school. It's a wonderful cycle to watch.”

These federal grants from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provide targeted assistance to states that are dealing with the ongoing opioid crisis.

Virginia has received these kinds of grants for three years in a row, worth nearly $40 million.

“Programs that meet the bio-psycho-social needs of Virginia's college students are important, as they provide a foundation for students to learn, grow and complete their degree programs,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Collegiate recovery programs help create a strong foundation for student success by providing nurturing communities for students as they seek and maintain recovery.”

The release says each of the eight participating schools will get support through site visits, daylong retreats, and monthly collaboration calls to help develop and implement programs, expand outreach strategies, and coordinate on-campus services over the next two years.

They will also have staff members who will be trained to deliver recovery ally training as well as being connected to a network of collegiate recovery professionals.

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