Characteristics of students participating in collegiate recovery programs and the impact of COVID-19: an updated national longitudinal study


Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery

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The goals of the present study were to describe the development of the first national longitudinal study of collegiate recovery program (CRP) students; provide an updated characterization of CRP students’ demographics, past problem severity, and current recovery-related functioning; and examine the perceived impact of COVID-19 on CRP students’ recovery. Universities and community colleges with CRPs across the United States and Ontario, Canada, were invited to partner on this project. Launched in fall 2020, three cohorts of participants were recruited. All participants who completed the baseline survey (N = 334 from 43 CRPs) were invited to complete follow-up surveys. The sample was composed of mostly undergraduate, White, cisgender women averaging 29 years old at baseline. They reported challenging backgrounds, including high levels of polysubstance use, alcohol/substance problem severity, mental health challenges, and involvement with the criminal legal system. Despite such adversity, they evidenced high levels of recovery-related functioning. Recovery capital and quality of life were high. Students reported an average of nearly four years in recovery, with most having between two and four years of abstinence from their primary substance of choice. COVID-19 represented a substantial source of stress for many, impacting some students’ abstinence and recovery-related functioning. Results generally parallel findings from the only other national study of CRP students conducted a decade ago, providing a much-needed update and novel insights into CRP students. Findings can inform our understanding of the CRP student population and can be used to tailor CRP design and service offerings to students’ backgrounds and needs.

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Addiction Research and Theory

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