“No Party” dorms are slowly increasing in popularity on college campuses throughout the country. The University of Vermont has been one of the leaders in this movement and continues to expand its programming for students who wish to live substance free at college. The UVM project called the “Wellness Environment” is already so popular that it plans to move to a second dorm next year and quadruple in size.
Although substance free dorms have existed for many years on numerous campuses, the UVM program is unique with a focus not just on sobriety but on achieving and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The program includes mandatory classwork, regular stress relaxation exercises, nutrition coaches, and personal trainers to assist students.
Dr. James Hudziak is the UVM leader behind the Vermont program. He is also chief of psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center. As with many healthcare leaders he recognizes that the adolescent brain is not fully developed and at risk for serious problems when faced with decisions about alcohol and other drugs.
Other institutions of higher learning have developed similar programs. Missouri State University has its own program called SoBear:Bears in Recovery. This is a self-help program, student led for people who are trying to maintain recovery from an addiction. Rutgers University, in New Jersey is another college with a sober dorm program. At Augsburg College in Minneapolis, random drug tests are part of the program to help support recovery.
Although Boston College and Harvard have ongoing initiatives to address alcohol and other drug use on their campuses, there are currently no sober dorms available on any college campuses within Massachusetts. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that there has been a 141.3% increase between 1999-2009 of college students ages 18-24 checking into addiction recovery programs in the U.S.
Maybe it is time our world class colleges, in the Commonwealth and the rest of the schools of higher learning stepped up and made more of an effort.