The UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program will host the California Unified Collegiate Recovery Program Nov. 7 and 8 in Corwin Pavilion to de-stigmatize alcohol and drug addictions and educate UCSB and SBCC students about resources for recovery.
The conference will host keynote speakers American Buddhist teacher and personal wellness believer Noah Levine, President and CEO of Young People in Recovery Justin Luke Riley and UC Riverside collegiate recovery program advisor Audrey Pusey. Each speaker will present an individual topic about the struggles and successes relating to recovery. Sponsors will offer resources and information to students, with organizers anticipating attendees from across the UC and out of state.
UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program counselor and recovery specialist Angie Bryan said the conference can help break down preconceptions about the recovery process while creating a community for recovering students.
“One goal is to bring students together in recovery just for fellowship and mutual support,” Bryan said. “We’re trying to promote awareness about being in recovery, and that people in recovery are assets to a college community … to reduce the stigma about being in recovery in college.”
Bryan said the recovery movement began at UCSB four years ago with the assistance of UC Riverside and has grown into a UC-wide program for addiction recovery.
“I think initially the goal was to help start the movement in California,” Bryan said. “Four years ago, we were just starting our program here and Riverside had a student group, but there wasn’t else much happening in our state. Now we have collegiate recovery programs at most of the UCs.”
Second-year psychology major and recovery intern for Gauchos for Recovery Adam Daar said UC Riverside supports UCSB in hosting the event.
“UC Riverside wanted to keep it student led, and I think that people liked the idea of bringing it to Santa Barbara because they saw that we had a strong collegiate recovery program community already,” Daar said. “We are really happy to be able to do this.”
According to fourth-year global studies major and recovery intern for Gauchos for Recovery Emily Bills, recovery programs have been growing rapidly in recent years and UCSB has one of the best programs to host the conference.
“There are only so many recovery programs in California that are able to host. We have a huge support from the Alcohol and Drug Program that no other schools really have,” Bills said.
According to Director of UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program Jackie Kurta, the process of recovery will be destigmatized throughout the conference. Kurta said she hopes this will lead to more acknowledgement and support for recovering students.
“I think there are assumptions made about how college students lead their lives,” Kurta said. “There’s stigma about people being in recovery or students who were struggling and not yet able to make a choice that is working well for them. I think our community needs to be more sensitive to being helpful and supportive and not being judging and off-putting in that way.”
Kurta said the conference will also showcase UCSB’s efforts to improve the lives of students dealing with addiction and recovery.
“We all saw it as a terrific opportunity to bring attention to the work that is being done and to applaud the efforts of the program and to bring some recognition to our campus, because people don’t always think of UCSB and sober living,” Kurta said. “It was an opportunity to say we have a thriving program, we have a very diverse community and our community can include students in recovery.”
Daar said he hopes the conference can help unify colleges and create diverse alcohol and drug programs at different universities.
“I think something the conference can do is [help] other schools with their recovery program and learn about our own and cultivate a space of learning … and expand the national recovery movement, especially on college campuses,” Daar said.
Daar said all students and UCSB staff are welcome to attend the conference and can volunteer for the event to learn about recovery.
“They can reach out to us and sign up for volunteer shifts,” Daar said. “They get free admission and are welcome to help out and attend the entire conference — they get all the information that is really guided for students.”
Daar said if students are struggling with an addiction they should seek help and know that recovery teams are there for support.
“Try really hard to not be afraid to ask for help. Know that no one in this recovery community is going to judge you for asking for help,” Daar said. “They can come to us to ask for help and they will be welcomed with open arms. I want them to know that.”
Bryan said the resources offered at the conference can be of help to anyone affected by addiction.
“I just want to emphasize that everybody is touched by addiction in some way, whether it’s personally or [through] a friend or family member,” Bryan said. “I think that anyone could get something out of the conference.”
The Alcohol and Drug Program offers weekly meetings open to all community members and hosts quarterly events. Services are primarily free to all students, including resources for being an ally in recovery.
For more information about the conference and registration, visit alcohol.sa.ucsb.edu.