What is recovery?

From our students:

- “Recovery is a state of mind characterized by abstinence from alcohol, drugs, and behaviors that have caused problems for people previously, to the point where a person desires and actively seeks out a new way of life."

- “This new way of life is characterized by a strong desire to stay sober, participating in growth opportunities for one’s mental health (such as working a program of sobriety like the twelve steps, faith-based healing, SMART, or CBT)."

- “Recovery is not the same for everyone; no two people lead the same recovery lifestyle. People are invited to use the tools and skills that keep them sober and happy with their lives."

- “However, the common theme of all people in recovery is abstinence from addictive behaviors, such as consumption of alcohol and drugs of abuse (including marijuana and all legal and illegal drugs of abuse, excluding caffeine and nicotine and drugs taken for legitimate medical reasons), addictive sexual behavior, and any behaviors that cause physical harm which is a danger to sobriety.”

Do people still drink when they are in recovery?

No. Recovery is based on complete abstinence from alcohol, drugs, and problematic behaviors. Individuals may return to use (where they end up drinking or using) but the purpose of recovery is to learn to live life sober—in a healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable way.

How is recovery different from moderation?

Moderation involves reducing your frequency and/or quantity of alcohol or other substances in order to reduce negative impacts on other aspects of your life.

Recovery starts with recognition of a physiological disorder and the negative effect of mood-altering substances which lead to cravings, loss of inhibitions and the inability to moderate. Recovery means abstinence from alcohol and other substances.

Have people in recovery found a new sense of willpower?

People in recovery recognize that their body reacts differently to substances. Those in recovery are often able to exert willpower successfully in other aspects of their lives, they have seen through past experience that they do not consume or think about substances the same way as others. People in recovery have admitted to themselves that they have no willpower or self-control when they are not engaging in a sober lifestyle. As a result, people in recovery live according to a sober lifestyle. They have regained the willpower to run their life as they desire, free of substances.

How can I better understand recovery and willpower?

Think of an ecosystem as a helpful analogy. Humans are generally at the top of the ecosystem. They can exert themselves and their willpower however they wish within this ecosystem, with moderate to great success. This is mostly true for people in recovery, except that substances are at the top of the ecosystem. Substances, when taken, have control—not because of a lack of willpower but because of a different physiological makeup. Their body chemistry does not respond well to substances, like an allergy of the mind and body. The only way for the recovering person to live successfully in such an ecosystem is to avoid substances.

How can I support the recovery of a family member or friend?

Show that you are supportive of their recovery and tell them you would like to hear from them about how you can best support their recovery process.

What is a CRC?

It is an acronym for Collegiate Recovery Community. A CRC is organized at a university to meet the unique needs of students in recovery. A CRC offers space for recovery-oriented meetings, opportunities for sober activities, enhanced academic support and a community of peers.

What are the different methods used for recovery?

There is no one standard method for how people start and maintain their recovery. The most commonly used methods include 12-step format (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.), SMART recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy and faith-based recovery.

What does anonymity have to do with recovery?

Anonymity helps to protect the privacy of people in recovery. While recovery is generally viewed as a proud aspect of an individual’s life, they may not want to talk about it with everyone, especially those outside of recovery. This is especially true for people who are new in their recovery. Those early in their recovery have adopted a new identity for themselves and may not be comfortable discussing it outside of a confidential, anonymous environment.

Unfortunately, there is still stigma surrounding being in recovery. The general public doesn’t fully understand what it means to be in recovery and can be judgmental.

Anonymity is also important because no one person should be the “poster child” for recovery. There are many faces, styles and facets of recovery.

What do people in recovery do with their free time?

Many of the same things people who are not in recovery do with their free time! They just do it sober..

Are people in recovery reliable?

Yes, very reliable. As part of the recovery lifestyle, many individuals take great pride in setting and achieving goals in school and the workplace, aiming to give 100 percent every day. Individuals in recovery place great emphasis on serving others, as a part of staying sober. This means more than community service once a month. It means being available for friends, family, your boss or coworkers, to help whenever possible. It means keeping commitments and being willing to do everything within your power to help another person.

Will being around alcohol trigger a relapse?

People must assess this for themselves, based on their security in their recovery, their time sober, general mood at the time and the reasons for being in such a setting.

A person in recovery should feel reasonably safe and comfortable in these situations if they have a good reason for being there (such as a work social/function or formal dinner with family) and if the situation is generally free of excessive use of alcohol or other substances. It may be important for the recovering individual to have a planned method of exit, should they find the situation is overly challenging to their sobriety or healthy coping strategies.

Why does Oregon State University want to support people in recovery?

For many young people in recovery, going to college seems like an impossible dream. College culture, historically, has been riddled with drug and alcohol abuse. This is not a conducive environment for recovery. Oregon State wants to change that dynamic. We want students from all walks of life to feel safe and supported on campus. We offer services and housing available to support recovery and social outlets that do not pose a risk for return to use.

Students in recovery, overall, demonstrate high levels of academic performance, achievement and a desire to lead and serve others. These students make the campus a better place for others.

Why should a university have a collegiate recovery community?

Young people in recovery are very much like their peers. They need a lot of the same types of academic and social support, but they also need support for their sobriety. College campuses are not typically safe places to get and stay sober. Students may fear social stigma, loss of friends or loss of social activities. Students in recovery deserve a great college experience just as much as anyone else. They deserve support that meets their unique needs. The number of services provided by our Collegiate Recovery Community continue to grow. And through the CRC, Oregon State not only supports the needs of students in recovery but reinforces sobriety on campus as an enjoyable, cherished and admirable way of life.