Fairfield University has opened the state’s first off-campus home for college students recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. The university's Recovery House differs from other substance-free college housing because it’s designed specifically for students who are actively trying to stay sober.
Susan Birge, the university’s director of counseling and psychological services, said Fairfield was losing students who would leave campus for treatment. "They would realize coming back to where they were using and abusing without good structure and support would probably be a recipe for relapse," she said.
Heavy drinking often increases during the transition to college, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, more than 40 percent of college students reported binge drinking, and more than 20 percent reported using illicit drugs.
Fairfield’s Recovery House is owned by the university. It is unmarked to protect students’ anonymity, and is currently only for men. Long-term plans include housing women.
About two dozen colleges nationwide have opened recovery housing for students.