IU hosting upcoming event that celebrates student recovery

When Indiana University student Jacob Desmond decided to return to campus after seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, he was nervous.

Sober and in recovery, Desmond wanted to make sure he had the support he needed to be successful a second time around.

Jacob Desmond

Jacob Desmond

“My biggest thing was having a social group to do fun, sober things with,” said Desmond who got sober at the age of 19. “The last thing I wanted to do was come down here and not do anything with anyone because I was scared to go out.”

Although IU has a number of programs for students dealing with addiction, Desmond found there wasn’t really a student-run group that served as a supportive and social atmosphere for students in recovery and those supporting recovery.

So with the help of Jackie Daniels, director of OASIS, which provides campus-wide alcohol and drug prevention, education and intervention, Desmond helped create Students in Recovery – Bloomington.

Founded in the spring of 2015, Students in Recovery – Bloomington aims at providing a safe and supportive community for students in addiction recovery. The group was established from a Transforming Youth Recovery grant OASIS received

The student organization holds weekly meetings and plans social events such as coffee crawls and bowling outings.

“I think we already do a good job of creating safe spaces for a variety of student needs,” said Daniels. “But what doesn’t exist is a social and support network. This group is giving students more power to show what they need — what does recovery look like, what do I need and how do I share that with faculty, staff and administration?”

In an effort to bring the community together in support of recovery, the group, alongside OASIS, is hosting the first annual Recovery Month Celebration and the IU Collegiate Addiction Recovery kick-off at 6 p.m., Sept. 22 at the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event will feature guest speaker Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006 and a viewing of “The Anonymous People” documentary.

Participants will also hear from IU staff and students in recovery, hear about addiction recovery programs available to IU’s population, and learn more about OASIS and Students in Recovery – Bloomington.

Jackie Daniels

Jackie Daniels

“People are getting sober younger and younger now,” Daniels said. “We are having this event because we want to draw attention to the fact that addiction doesn’t discriminate to age, gender or socioeconomic status. We need to educate our students.”

There is a misconception not only among college students, Daniels said, but among some adults around drinking and drug use for college-aged students. For many college students, excess can be considered a typical rite of passage. They’ll slow down, Daniels said, once college is over and they enter the “adult world.”

“A lot of students on campus see addiction as something in the far off future,” said Daniels who began her own recovery as a 22-year-old IU student. “They are not worried about it right now unless someone expresses concerns. We need to change the image that addiction happens when you are older and as a college student your drug and alcohol use is casual and will pass. For some it doesn’t end at graduation.”

Daniels hopes the upcoming Recovery Month Celebration event will not only help educate students, but also serve as a message that IU and the community support students in recovery.

“The event is open to anyone who wants to learn more about recovery and support students in recovery,” she said. “I’ve been telling people that attendance is symbolic of support for recovery on campus.”

For Desmond, he hopes to not only reach his own goal of one day entering medical school, but to help create a permanent space for Students in Recovery – Bloomington to meet and on-campus housing for students in recovery and allies.

He also hopes to serve as an example that no matter who you are, there is hope in recovery.

“I’m showing people that you can go back,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that it can be done.”

Information about the event and registration is available online. More information on Students in Recovery – Bloomington is available via the group’s Facebook page, Twitter account or by email at sirb@indiana.edu.

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