'Recovery is Celebrated Here': Collegiate Recovery Community Reinvented to Increase Impact

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2018) — Substance abuse is an epidemic sweeping the nation, and a problem that Kentucky has become all too familiar with, impacting the state at disproportionately high levels. To help students who are pursuing and maintaining recovery efforts from substance abuse at the University of Kentucky, the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC), a program housed under Campus Recreation and Wellness, has undergone changes to rebuild the program to maximize its reach.

The prevalence of substance use and abuse on college campuses creates a significant obstacle for students pursuing an education. Collegiate Recovery Programs are an innovative and growing model of peer-driven recovery support delivered on college campuses nationwide. 

In 2013, the university took steps toward meeting the needs of students in recovery by launching a CRC, dedicated to empowering students recovering from substance use disorders to achieve personal, academic and professional success while maintaining recovery. However, since the program was formed, this will be the first year that the program will have a full-time coordinator dedicated specifically to the CRC. 

"Being the first person to hold the full-time CRC position is truly an honor, and with that comes a lot of unknowns," said Ivy Bruce, CRC coordinator. "The first thing I plan to do in this position is listen, with empathy and patience, to our campus and what the needs are, and build a subsequent program from the feedback I’m given. It is my ultimate goal to connect students to the resources they need."

Along with new leadership, the CRC has also recently changed locations. In its new location, Frazee Hall, the CRC is centrally located on campus, providing easier access for students, staff and faculty. Equipped with a new coordinator and location, Bruce is essentially reinventing the program from the ground up, with plans to roll out new initiatives propelling the program forward. 

A constant that Bruce has found in recovery is that recovery is different for everyone. The resources that one student needs may be different from another. Next spring, Bruce hopes to establish meetings dedicated to specific student populations, scholarship opportunities for students in recovery as well as family and friend support groups. 

"When I think of addiction, I like to think of it like an inkblot. Its reach spreads well past the initial point of contact," Bruce said. "We know that substance use disorders affect more than just the person using the substance. It reaches to our families, our friends, communities, and so on and so forth. Understandably so, it’s a sensitive topic for many. But when we don’t talk about recovery, we don’t tell others that it’s possible and that’s where the CRC comes in. We start the conversation around recovery through our Allies in Recovery trainings, alcohol and other drug education and our everyday conversations. Recovery is real, recovery is possible and recovery is celebrated here."

At the CRC, Bruce uses the SMART Recovery Model. SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a four-point program that offers specific tools and techniques for each of the program points:

Point 1: Building and maintaining motivation.

Point 2: Coping with urges.

Point 3: Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Point 4: Living a balanced life.

Using this model, current CRC initiatives and resources offered on campus, like the Counseling Center, Bruce believes she will be able to illustrate to students that recovery is attainable. Bruce's efforts to restore the program will allow more students to receive the help that they need, proving that it is possible to earn a college degree and have a fulfilling college experience while maintaining recovery from addiction.

Students are encouraged to get involved with the CRC, whether they are seeking recovery, friends and family affected by substance use disorders, those interested in learning how to become an ally to individuals in recovery or students who are passionate about helping other’s in this area. To contact the CRC or to learn more about the program, visit its website

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue