UConn’s Recovery Program with Sandy Valentine

Earlier this week, I had a great virtual visit with Sandy Valentine, Leader of UConn’s collegiate recovery program which they call URC (UConn Recovery Community). Our Social Media Intern Mary and parent Jacqueline joined me. We “met” at the Cordial Storrs House, a centuries-old building dedicated to all things student recovery.

The goal of URC, as Sandy described it, is twofold: 1) to support students in or seeking recovery; and 2) to “turn on the lights” of recovery to the broader UConn community. Thus, Sandy’s program provides recovery coaching, peer support meetings, friends & family meetings (based on the SMART Recovery model), and even housing. In addition, URC is advocating for the recovery-friendly campus model, which dovetails with national recovery-friendly community and recovery-friendly workplace initiatives underway on a statewide and national basis.

Sandy took us through all the services and opportunities being provided to students in recovery, which you can see listed at the URC website located here: https://studenthealth.uconn.edu/recovery/. One big win has been the Recovery Ally 2-hour Training module that Sandy developed and teaches. Over 500 people in the broader UConn community have been trained so far, helping recovery as more people understand how they can help support those seeking sobriety or moderation in their substance use.

While UConn has a substance-free dorm, this is different from having a residence dedicated to those in recovery from substance use. Some collegiate recovery programs offer a clinical approach to recovery housing, but at UConn they partner students with clinicians on and off campus as desired, and instead focus on building peer support. At UConn, there is a connected community successfully embracing recovery at UConn. Scholarships are available, and there’s even a Recovery Yoga class housed in UConn’s new Recreation Center.

After our meeting and “tour” of URC’s building, Mary, Jacqueline and I came away inspired that Sandy’s efforts are paying off to create understanding and support for recovery at UConn.