Every Wednesday the University Health Center hosts a drop-in session for students in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.
Between 1 and 4 p.m. every weekday recovering students can come to the Health Center to talk with students suffering from similar afflictions, but on Wednesdays the Health Center offers a “chat and coloring” session. There, students are encouraged to draw in coloring books and talk in a relaxed environment. Some pictures drawn during previous sessions hang on the walls.
Renée Nicolas is a university alumna and current graduate student who interns with the substance abuse intervention treatment unit. She has had experience working with heroin users in Washington D.C.
The drop-in space first started last spring, according to Nicolas. “We’re trying to do mini events like crocheting, we’re going to have a paint night and a game night,” she said.
Becca Gibson is a senior family science major and founding member of Terps for Recovery, which she says recently became a recognized student group. Gibson said that the group tries to hold events for students to show an environment outside of drinking and drug use.
“Our goal is to show other students that life does not end when you get sober,” said Gibson. “There are lots of students in recovery on campus and there are lots of ways to have fun without getting drunk or high.”
This Wednesday, certified peer recovery specialist Kabir Singh attended the session to talk to students. Singh, a 1999 university alumnus, is in recovery himself. Since he began the recovery process himself, he has looked to help others who have struggled with substance abuse.
“As one who engages in a 12-step program, eventually hopefully you get sponsees,” said Singh. “Recovery is about support. You offer a safe space like this to bring down the walls of stigma.”
Though the sessions have been happening since last year, the Health Center is still working out the best way to make the space available. “It’s been kind of a slow start,” said Nicolas. “On Friday we had about seven students hanging out here.”
Last Wednesday, no students showed up to the drop-in session, but Nicolas says this is not because they don’t want to use the space. According to Nicolas, the space is meant to help students get away from their busy schedule, but many find the timing of the sessions inconvenient for school days.
The drop-in sessions will continue to be held weekdays 1-4 p.m., and Singh will be returning on Nov. 9.