Where students hang out on a Saturday night

“Before we opened Recovery House, students in recovery from alcohol and drugs typically commuted from home or from a residential sober-living facility. Returning to a campus residence hall with students who drink or use drugs was a recipe for relapse,” explained Dr. Susan Birge, director of Counseling & Psychological Services. Fairfield wanted these students to have the full college experience — minus the triggers that might jeopardize their healthy lifestyle.

Fairfield’s dedication to helping students stay sober puts the University on the short list of just 17 colleges and universities in the Association of Recovery Schools, whose mission is the expansion of programs that help recovering students achieve success in both education and recovery. The University has long had counseling services, mentoring and a 12-step program, and a dedicated lounge to support students in recovery.

Residents have to sign a contract agreeing to attend 12-step meetings, keep the rules of the house, and submit to random urine tests. A house manager lives on the premises. Right now, Recovery House is for male students only, but the University hopes to someday have a similar space for women.

“Why wouldn’t we do everything we can to foster the success of these students … all students?” Dr. Birge asked. “I think it’s a very progressive, mission-driven, Jesuit approach. These young men have struggled profoundly and we say ‘welcome.’ There’s no shame or embarrassment. And after all, these are students we want to stay at Fairfield. They are wonderful young adults who have made bad choices, but they’ve come through it and have grown because of it.”

Chris has mentored other students, and he’s very grateful to Fairfield for helping him when he needed it. “Fairfield has gone above and beyond, helping me not just in recovery but as a college student, in dealing with balance,” he said. “I had expectations coming here, and my experience has far exceeded those expectations. I’m very grateful.”

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