Chase Otero: The Paisano

Addiction comes in various forms, but it does not discount the importance of recovery for the affected students. Although the Center for Collegiate Recovery’s (CCR) membership has remained relatively static, according to Assistant Director of Counseling Services Kristen McElroy, it does not deter the center from participating in more outreach opportunities.

In this month’s issue of National Geographic titled The Science of Addiction, Fran Smith documents current advancements in scientific research to further understand and cure addictions.

Smith noted more than 200,000 people die each year from drug overdoses and drug-related illnesses worldwide. Nearly one in twenty adults are addicted to alcohol and in the United States, over 33,000 people succumbed to opioid overdoses in 2015.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, in a 2016 report on addiction, over 21 million Americans have a drug or alcohol addiction.

The Surgeon General’s report asserts addiction is characterized by compulsive repetition of an activity, despite potentially life-damaging consequences. Addiction is prevalent in American society and treatments are few and traditional. College campuses are beginning to introduce Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP) for students, but the transition has been slow.

According to McElroy, “UTSA is ahead of the curve in promoting safety and education about drinking and drug use simply by having a Collegiate Recovery Program on campus. Most schools do not have a CRP, although that is starting to change. More and more universities are recognizing the need of their students to start CRPs and, in many cases, these programs are started by students who are currently in recovery.”

At UTSA, the CCR is a resource many students have reached out to for treating their addictions. “Our goal is to be as visible as possible so that students know about this resource should they ever need it. Increased awareness also reduces stigma and normalizes help-seeking behaviors that we want to promote,” said McElroy.

Matt Hinojosa, a junior Chicana/o studies and anthropology major, previously struggled with substance addictions before reaching out to the CCR. “The CCR and its community have provided so many opportunities for growth, in my recovery and in my life as a whole.” As a freshman coming straight from high school, Hinojosa felt directionless and

saw his substance abuse as a piece of everyday life. After dropping multiple classes and having some run-ins with the law, Hinojosa sought the guidance of the CCR, which he sees as a turning point in his life.

“It’s since been a platform to propel myself, and everyone involved, forward academically, professionally, spiritually.”

Hinojosa stressed the impact the CCR’s community has had on himself and others. “We’re in it for the long haul, and we have a wonderful community of folks who will go to any lengths to help another person out. Recovery has shown me the fullest capabilities of human love, resilience and vitality.”

Hinojosa is just one student who has sought help, but McElroy describes the membership in the recovery community as “relatively static.”

“Most frequently, we see students who are in recovery from a substance use disorder or are currently struggling with a substance use issue; however, we offer services to students who are struggling with any addictive behavior including eating disorders, gambling, gaming, sex/love etc,” said McElroy.

“The process of addiction in each of these areas is similar, and students can benefit from the support and accountability they get at the Recovery Center, regardless of what they are struggling with.”

McElroy wants students to know about the many resources they have available to students on campus. She believes the raising of awareness will assist in normalizing help-seeking behaviors and reduce the stigma that comes with seeking help. The Student Center for Collegiate Recovery houses open recovery meetings weekly and is available for students to drop in Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tania Siddiqi speaks with Matt Hinojosa about addiction, recovery and substance abuse.

Check out episode three of Common Link.

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