Next Steps for Cornell Addiction and Recovery

Cornell Sober Housing, Inc. has changed its name to Cornell Collegiate Recovery, Inc. (CCR) to reflect its overall mission of advocacy to the Cornell University community about college student alcoholism, addiction, and recovery.

CCR is an independent nonprofit organization. Its board and supporters include faculty, alumni, and students committed to collegiate recovery. Since its founding in 2015, our mission has been multifaceted. We provide a clean and sober living environment for Cornell students, support their sobriety and recovery, and cultivate understanding throughout the broader Cornell community about substance abuse and addiction recovery.

At the end of the 2021-22 academic year, we will be closing our Sober House residence temporarily. This is an unfortunate consequence of Covid-19 and constraints on social gatherings, which have reduced the number of students associated with the Sober@Cornell student organization and who are interested in living in the house. In this context, we are shifting our focus to educating the Cornell University community—students, faculty, and administrators—about alcoholism, drug addiction, and recovery, and working with Sober@Cornell to rebuild its organization and programming.

Another in an occasional series of articles about student mentaOne in an occasional series of articles about student mental health. For more information, go to The Sophie Fund’s Student Mental Health Page

According to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, approximately 160 colleges have recovery programs for students. Earlier college alcohol and drug programs focused on students drinking to excess (i.e., binge drinking) and gave little attention to students addicted to alcohol and other drugs because it was thought that alcoholics and addicts were primarily middle age adults. Alcohol is the dominant drug of choice among college students and most students drink moderately or are abstinent. National research finds that approximately 6 percent of college students are dependent upon alcohol and approximately 12 percent abuse alcohol. While students abusing alcohol can change their behavior and drink responsibly, either on their own or with professional help, students dependent upon alcohol and other drugs require alcoholism and addiction treatment to abstain and gain long-term sobriety.

The primary barrier to helping students recover from alcoholism and drug addiction is stigma. Cornell Collegiate Recovery, Inc. will work to reduce stigma and promote student access to treatment and long-term recovery through a variety of efforts:

  • Working with the Cornell University administration and Cornell Health to develop a comprehensive collegiate recovery program. We will seek to work with the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives to develop education efforts focused on teaching students about alcoholism, drug addiction, and recovery and how to seek help for themselves or fellow students suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. We will seek to work with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to cross-train its clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders and substance use disorders, particularly alcohol and other drug addictions.
  • Working with Sober@Cornell to revitalize its organization and rebuild its membership. We will work to promote a positive identity for students in recovery and a community of support through public relations campaigns and sponsoring sober events on campus.  
  • Working with student service professionals across campus to facilitate their ability to identify students who may be suffering from alcoholism and addiction and refer them to Cornell Health for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Student service professionals also provide a critical role in supporting students in recovery to maintain their sobriety, achieve their full potential as Cornellians, and pursue successful careers after graduation.
  • Working with student organizations to promote an understanding of alcoholism, drug addiction, and recovery. For several years, we have brought Cornell alumni in recovery to campus to talk with fraternities and sororities. These FAST Talks have been well received, helping students to distinguish between responsible drinking and alcohol dependence and providing them with information on seeking help for themselves or friends. We will be promoting FAST Talks to other student organizations this year. We believe that peers helping peers is one of the best ways to help students suffering from alcoholism, and drug addiction and to support them in their recovery.

By William J. Sonnenstuhl, Alison Young, Tim Vanini, and Shawn Meyer

William J. Sonnenstuhl, Alison Young, Tim Vanini, and Shawn Meyer are officers of Cornell Collegiate Recovery, Inc.