MSU Creates Program for Students Recovering From Substance Abuse

Aug 20, 2014

Missouri State University campus
Credit KSMU archives

Students at Missouri State University who are in recovery for substance abuse now have a new option.  After determining a need on campus, the school has created a program called SoBear: Bears in Recovery that will provide a positive environment for students to gather with others going through similar situations. KSMU’s Anna Thomas has the story.

In the 2014 Missouri College Health Behavior Survey, MSU students were asked if they identified with a person in recovery or sober from alcohol or drug abuse. Out of the 691 responders, over 5 percent said yes.

Justin Johns is a mental health clinician and substance abuse specialist at the university.

“There is a number of students out there who are either actively in recovery, maybe struggling, maybe looking for further support. So that kind of gave us evidence to say, you know what this might be something that could be successful on our campus,” Johns said.

The SoBear: Bears in Recovery program is just beginning, but plans are in place to allow students to gather and gain support from each other, as well as help to further the program’s structure to fit their needs.

Johns said anyone going through recovery have a lot to deal with.

“Students could face peer pressure, the stressors of academics, the stressors of trying to be a successful student. Those things all kind of coming together, and placing a student, whether they’re from a different state, different city, and putting them in a new place, they can feel alone. And that can be a trigger to or an obstacle to overcome in recovery,” Johns said.

SoBear was funded by a grant from Transforming Youth Recovery, which also gave start to three other recovery programs at universities across Missouri. All of the programs are relatively new, with St. Louis University’s program operational for about a year and a half.

Jay Winig is a licensed clinical social worker, and runs the SLU Recovery Group.

“Even though the numbers might be small and that the process might be slow getting started, identifying and recruiting these students to the collegiate recovery community, I think it’s an extremely important and vital part of any university. We find more and more young people that are getting treatment and are going to be looking for that college experience,” Winig said.

Winig adds that gathering the students from all the participating universities in the state, like Maryville and the University of Missouri, is a goal for the future.

SoBear: Bears in Recovery will have its first open house Thursday from 4-6 p.m., with a second meeting scheduled for August 28th, both at the Monroe Residence Hall Gathering Room.