Ferris Collegiate Recovery Education and Wellness (CREW) Site Coordinator Kayce Courson joined Ferris in August 2018 with a goal to help students in substance use or addiction recovery.
Collegiate recovery programs, according to collegiaterecovery.org, are “a supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to disengage from addictive behavior. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure that students do not have to sacrice one for the other.”
Courson came to Ferris as a result of Ferris’ recent partnership with Ten16 Recovery Network, bringing CREW to campus.
“My vision for CREW would be that a core group of students in recovery come together and form those meaningful relationships through the open dialogue that they are able to have here in this space, and they become sort of like a family or community,” Courson said.
In collaboration with CREW, Ferris Associate Dean of Student Life and Director of Student Conduct Nicholas Campau hopes students will find a place among peers where they can talk about their substance use and evaluate its impact on their daily life.
“The Office of Student Conduct collaborates with CREW by referring students found in violation of an alcohol or drug policy. Kayce and CREW offers multiple in-person programs designed to help students consider the choices they are making in a judgement-free environment while avoiding telling students what they ‘must do,’” Campau said.
Some of the programs include Wonderlust, Recovery by the Slice and all-recovery meetings. These meetings range from students who are curious about recovery to students who identify as people in recovery. In addition to these meetings, there is also a Back to Basics Workshop, which is a more traditional Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting brought to Ferris by AA and facilitated by CREW.
Being in the field of collegiate recovery for four years, Courson is originally from Kennesaw, Georgia, where she trained at Kennesaw State University Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery — one of the largest collegiate recovery programs in the nation, according to Courson.
“My involvement with them just really sparked my interest in what this is and how to do it, and I just knew immediately that I wanted to be in this field. It’s a very small and targeted field, but it’s rapidly growing,” Courson said.
According to Courson, there are roughly 270 collegiate recovery programs this year, with that number being cut in half only a few years ago.
Before beginning her journey as a leader in the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Collegiate Recovery Program, Courson struggled with her own substance abuse as an undergraduate at KSU.
Initially taking time off school to attend treatments, Courson decided to go back to school, discovering the collegiate recovery community (CRC) on campus where she could feel safe and supported among peers.
Though Courson is now at Ferris, she keeps in touch with her Kennesaw mentor, KSU Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery Executive Director Teresa Johnston.
“Kayce and I were naturally drawn together as our interest in recovery and helping others provide common ground,” Johnston said.
With her 11 years of experience in KSU’s recovery program, Johnston believes that introducing a CRC to Ferris will give students the chance to connect with the university while staying healthy during their recovery and graduating college.
“Reach out. Don’t do it alone. If you think you have a problem, you probably do. The brain is the only organ that prevents itself from getting help. So listen to others. They may see what you can’t,” Johnston said.
All meetings are anonymous and are held in Birkam Health Center 203, with the AA Back to Basics Workshop being held in UCB 122. To keep their anonymity, students are encouraged to use the side door at the Birkam Health Center by the parking lot.
“I’m living proof that it gets better, and that it gets better in a community of people with similar goals. And that’s what collegiate recovery is,” Courson said.
For more information on recovery meetings, visit calendar.ferris.edu.