As the nation continues to grapple with what’s been coined as the “opiate epidemic,” an influx of opiate and prescription-related deaths beginning in the late 1990s, college campuses around the nation are responding with a growing number of resources for students struggling with substance abuse.
One of the resources at the University of Oregon is the Collegiate Recovery Center. The center is meant to offer a sense of community and a safe place for students actively seeking a sober lifestyle.
Ezra Moss, a senior at UO majoring in international studies, currently interns under Student Life, planning events and seminars for the CRC, as well as collaborating with recovery groups from colleges all around the nation. Moss got sober near the end of his first year in college and has been a member of the CRC ever since.
“I hit an emotional rock bottom while studying abroad my first year in college. I was in such a beautiful place, and I still couldn’t tell anyone why I was feeling so detached,” Moss said. “That’s why the sense of community at the CRC has been so valuable.”
Moss first tried smoking pot in high school, quickly graduating to prescription pills such as Xanax and Vicodin.
“I was smoking a lot of weed in high school, and doing okay. But when I got into pills, that’s when my life slowly started to fall apart,” Moss said. “I would take whatever pills came my way. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know what it was.”
Moss’s story is echoed around the nation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opiate-related deaths continue to rise nationally with 33,000 deaths in 2015.
Kelly McIver, Public Information Officer for the UO Police Department, spoke with the UOPD crime analyst, who says that UO hasn’t seen a rise in prescription drug arrests.
“Occasionally there will be non-UO-affiliated people arrested for different violations, and among their illicit possessions, they may have prescription medication that was issued to someone else. But even that is uncommon,” McIver said.
Despite the lack of increase in arrests, the CRC exists for those with an addiction looking to move away from drugs and recover. Currently, the CRC offers a variety of activities for members, including weekly seminars, yoga, trips to the art museum and hiking.
“We try and switch it up and show people that they can have fun while being sober in college,” Moss said. “We also have events with universities around the nation. It’s a movement and its cool to witness hundreds of other students pursuing recovery in college. It’s something I would have never known had I not gotten involved with the CRC.”
Dani Wilson, a graduate student in the Ph.D. program for counseling and psychology, currently works with the CRC through the counseling department and checks in with students on a daily basis when they come to the center. Wilson described the center as a place like no other on campus and a haven for recovering students.
“There’s a lot of things that are very typical for college students that aren’t necessarily good fits for someone trying to be sober, so we offer an alternative to that,” said Wilson.
Oliver Barry is a freshman at UO who had been in contact with the CRC prior to moving to Oregon. He enjoys having a community to surround himself with when experiencing the highs and lows of campus life.
“Even though I’m going to college, I don’t have to abide by the norms of constantly getting high or drunk. It’s not for me, and that’s fine. I can still have a positive experience,” Barry said.
The CRC is open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 3 or 5 p.m. depending on the day. Weekly Seminars are held on Wednesday evenings. The CRC office is located on the third floor of the EMU and can be reached at 541-346-6079.