NJ Human Services Awards Contracts to Colleges to Enhance Recovery Supports for Students with Substance Use Disorder

September 27, 2022

(TRENTON)Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the Department of Human Services has awarded more than $1.1 million in contracts to college campuses to provide supportive, substance-free living environments and services that support students in recovery from substance use disorder and allow prevention from addiction.

“At the Department, we understand the importance of providing a safe and supportive environment for addiction prevention and recovery, and this holds true for college students in all phases of recovery. These contracts will help ensure more students have the opportunity to complete their college education in an environment that values and supports recovery from addiction,” said Commissioner Adelman. “We look forward to seeing more students succeed on their journey to recovery and higher education.”

The program will be funded through federal Substance Abuse Block Grant COVID-19 Supplement funding. Services are expected to start this September and will continue through March 2023.

The contracts were awarded to the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in Piscataway; and Rutgers University Newark, with maximum awards of $375,000.

“Colleges and universities in New Jersey play a critical role in helping students who face substance abuse challenges to feel safe and included in their environments so they can focus on recovery and moving their lives forward,” stated Dr. Brian K. Bridges, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education. “These grants will help Rutgers-New Brunswick, Rutgers-Newark, and Rowan not only enhance their services in this regard, but will also allow them to provide best-practice models for other institutions across the state.”

“There is already great pressure to meet the academic demands of college, which can be compounded for students in recovery as they navigate their academic and personal journeys,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health Services Lisa Asare. “These contracts will help normalize a substance-free lifestyle in higher education institutions so that students in recovery and students who choose to live in a substance free environment have the tools to thrive in a college setting and reach their academic goals.”

Each awardee will be required to provide individual and group substance abuse recovery oriented programs and services; implement campus-wide environmental prevention strategies such as providing substance free activities for all dorm residents; provide assessment, academic, and relapse prevention services to students; and other appropriate services.

Services will be offered in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Providers will ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural and linguistic competence are a part of the services offered to the campus community.

Providers will also be required to analyze data to implement strategies to increase program participation and ensure demographic data is relevant.

On an average day during the past year, 1.2 full-time college students drank alcohol and full-time college students who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.1 drinks per day on the days on which they drank.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 25% of college students reported adverse academic consequences due to alcohol abuse, and 2.1 million drove under the influence last year. 

“For a young adult in recovery and their loves ones, it can be scary to enter a college environment where addictive substances can be readily available and potentially face adverse consequences,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who directs Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “Recovery housing and programs ease these concerns as students complete their college education among a support network of like-minded peers that also value addiction recovery. Having a supportive community is key in sustaining recovery and preventing reoccurrence.”  

“I continue to urge anyone struggling with substance use disorder to call 1-844-ReachNJ; a 24-hour-a-day,7 day-a-week help line. A path to recovery is possible and help is always available, even as one pursues higher education. Treatment works, so please don’t hesitate to call,” Commissioner Adelman said.