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Collegiate Recovery Program offers drug-recovery support for students

Courtesy of Pixabay
Collegiate Recovery Program offers support for students.

UTEP Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) is a program committed to helping students recover from drug addiction in many aspects of their lives, whether that’s mentally, academically or financially. CRP also seeks to destigmatize the label “addicts” in order to treat it as a public health issue.  

According to the Texas College Survey of Substance Use, alcohol is the number one substance abused among college students.  

The Texas Board of Regents saw this as a problem interfering with the academic and personal lives of students. The program was then first developed at the University of Texas at Austin.  

After witnessing the benefits, the UT System decided to take it to the other universities. In 2015, the program was brought to UTEP. 

Valerie Barela, coordinator of CRP at UTEP, mentioned how this program has helped students the past four years. With weekly anonymous meetings and support groups, students have been able to increase their GPAs and lifestyle.  

CRP was the first in the city of El Paso to host a SMART meeting, which stands for self management and recovery training. This type of program was developed in 1994 with the purpose of building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors and living a balanced life.  

“It’s based much more on the idea and concept that each individual has the power and ability to create change for themselves,” Berala said.  

SMART recovery is offered once a week at UTEP. 

Along with this program, Mark Lusk, a UTEP professor from the Department of Social Workis also working with his graduate students to teach them about prevention, treatments and how to destigmatize the words “addiction” and “addicts.  

“When we see people, who have health issues such as depression or anxiety, we also find that they have what is called concurrent disorders, meaning that they have depression and substance abuse,” Lusk said.   

According to Lusk, 12 percent of adults in the U.S. use illicit drugs while another 50 percent use tobacco and alcohol products. 

The 2018 report by the Texas Sentinel Community Site (SCS) found that, in El Paso, the top five drug threats are methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, cannabis and pharmaceuticals. Methamphetamine is also the number one drug threat in Dallas and Houstonmostly imported from Mexico, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

Methamphetamine admissions to treatment programs increased from 3% of all admissions in 1995 to 11% in 2007, dropped to 8% in 2009 and then rose to 17% of admissions in 2017, according to SCS. Among these admissions 74% were white, 20% were Hispanic and 5% were African Americans. 

“Even though El Paso is a border community, we are a transit community,” Lusk said. “A big percentage of the drugs don’t stay at the border. They travel to big cities in the States.”  

Barela mentioned that when students seek help at the CRP, they are not required to disclose which substance they are abusing or facing problems with.  

“I cannot tell you exactly what is the substance most of the students are abusing, but, from what I heard in the meetings, it’s alcohol and marijuana abuse,” Barela said. “When it comes to education, procrastination is the biggest problem among students.” 

“We are here to help students succeed in school, it’s a community effort,” Barela said. 

Maria Ramos may be reached at [email protected] 

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Collegiate Recovery Program offers drug-recovery support for students