Substance Abuse, while an issue seldom discussed on many college campuses, is one that affects many in the Longwood and Farmville Community. Living spaces, safe spaces, recovery meetings, and other support systems don’t adequately exist for many who desperately need them to maintain healthy living; whether that means strict abstinence, moderation, or another type of sobriety.
However, at the regular meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) on March 14th, Recovery Housing for students came to the forefront during the open forum at the end of the meeting. Red Embry, a Freshman student at Longwood, spoke about her experiences struggling in her current living space. In that same meeting, the SGA voted unanimously in support of Recovery Housing on campus.
The Rotunda, following this, sat down with both Red and Lucas Baker, Longwood’s Collegiate Recovery Coordinator. During the interview, Red (who preferred to be addressed as “Red” throughout the article) spoke on her journey, having struggled with some sort of addiction since she was seven years old. She said she “became incapable of holding down a job, I couldn’t even manage to work at UPS long term.” Following this, she went into rehab, only because “[she] had a case manager, and they were the ones who confronted [her] with this issue.” She has been sober since, saying “once I got into rehab and had all of these supports, I flourished.” She continued, “I think it really just goes to show the reason I’m so passionate about this is because my life did a 180 once I had these resources.”
Both Red and Baker are heavily involved with Longwood Recovers, Longwood’s Collegiate Recovery Program that assists students in maintaining both their academics and their recovery. Longwood Recovers is managed under the Office of Education and Prevention Programs, sustained by a national grant that seeks to assist college students in recovering from addiction. It is different from Alcoholics Anonymous in that it is University-affiliated and offers one-on-one consultation, though does offer a space to hold AA meetings.
Into Recovery Housing, Red and Baker discussed both the need for it and the uncertainty of what it could look like. “What [Recovery Housing] would look like is something that’s going to need to be discussed between our students, our faculty, and our staff,” Red said, “similar to how all families look different, all [recovery] living arrangements look different.” Baker added, saying “There are universities big enough and have community recovery big enough that they have different [recovery] living on campus, one being abstinence and the other being harm reduction.” Both Red and Baker discussed potential organization of Recovery Housing, either being townhouses, dry floors, or another setting.
Finally, when asked about how far Recovery Housing on campus is going, both Red and Baker pointed to conversations ahead. “We’re going to need students to speak out, we’re going to need people to request it,” said Red. However, “the conversations we have had have been really positive.” She went on to say that “we still need to continue to fight for these changes to actually go through because I would hate to see this as something that just fizzles out.”
Baker, in conclusion, said “it's important to normalize that conversation and normalize the disorder. It happens more than you would realize and we need to talk about it. You are a loving, deserving person, and you should validate that.”
Longwood Recovers is reachable on their website, their social media, and a call and text line. They also operate beyond substance abuse, offering meetings for those needing support suffering from eating disorders.
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