The University of Lynchburg has received a $50,000 grant, paid out over two years, to launch Hornets in Recovery, a program that will help students living in recovery from substance use disorders.
“Although there is no way to know the exact numbers, about 75% of college students drink alcohol,” said Dr. Sara Bailey, the program’s director and an assistant professor of counseling at Lynchburg. “Approximately 28% of college students binge drink.
“Approximately 45% have used a drug such as marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, or Xanax in the past year. Early substance use — prior to age 25 — puts people at greater risk for developing disordered use. Recovery is possible, and it’s best supported in community.”
Hornets in Recovery will offer on-campus, 12-step programs and other support groups, along with prevention activities. “For students living in recovery from substance use disorders, finding a campus recovery community can be lifesaving,” Bailey said.
She added, “In any given time period, we may not have a huge number of students living in or seeking to live in recovery, but we will and do have students who may be using substances in ways that are not serving their needs in the best way possible.
“For these students, conversations about harm reduction and self-advocacy will support their autonomy and their wellness. We want to be receptive and responsive to our students’ needs.”
The grant — a subaward through Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond — was funded by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to Bailey, most of the grant dollars will be used to fund a part-time position to help “coordinate campuswide initiatives, including recovery meetings, activities, and educational opportunities, and … help inspire a campus we anticipate will be a safe space for folks in recovery, contemplating recovery, or curious about recovery from substance use disorders.”
The University also received what Bailey described as a “generous gift” from the Richmond, Virginia-based JHW Foundation which, according to its website, “rais[es] awareness about substance use disorders and addiction in young adults and support[s] young adults in recovery.”
This gift “will help with supplies for campus initiatives and boost our reach in our University community,” Bailey said.
Hornets in Recovery was developed in collaboration with Roads to Recovery, a local nonprofit that offers substance abuse recovery services. The University learned about the grant opportunity from Sandy Kanehl, the organization’s founder and chief executive officer.
“The Roads to Recovery team … has already assisted us in our grant application, our stakeholder meetings, and our staffing search,” Bailey said. “Along with several members of our campus community, members of their staff attended the Recovery Ally training offered by VCU. Roads to Recovery professionals will help us provide Recovery Ally training on our campus.
“We will be relying on the expertise and deep connections Roads to Recovery has fostered within the Lynchburg community to help us as we develop what we hope is a vibrant campus recovery community.”
Bailey will speak about the program during the upcoming Year of the Peer Kickoff Conference, presented by Roads to Recovery. The event will be held at the University of Lynchburg on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 20-21.
“I’m excited to speak and share what we’re planning and the importance of peer recovery programs on campuses,” she said.
For more information about the conference, visit the Roads to Recovery website.