Newswise — Texas Tech University's Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery has developed and is distributing the nation's first curriculum to establish recovery communities on college campuses.

The move comes as higher education increasingly relies on peer-based recovery programs to battle student substance abuse and attrition rates.

The curriculum, modeled after the pioneering program at Texas Tech, lays out basic steps for schools to develop and establish recovery communities with offerings including support groups, twelve-step programs, mentoring and other activities.

Texas Tech's recovery community is the largest and one of the oldest of its kind in the nation. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the program provides support and services to prevent the relapse of nearly 100 students recovering from alcohol and other chemical addictions; it also has expanded its scope to incorporate issues such as eating disorders and gambling.

The approach is successful. Bolstered by counseling and peer support, more than 500 students " around 70 percent " have graduated through the program with only seven percent of active participants suffering relapses. The national percentage is closer to 50 percent, center administrators say. The students' collective GPA is a 3.34.

"Students who may not have been able to continue attending another school come to Texas Tech and, thanks to the support they receive, are able to achieve a 4.0 GPA," said center director Dr. Kitty Harris.

The center already has replicated its community-based model on campuses such as the University of Boulder at Colorado and the University of Texas at San Antonio. But more programs are needed, Harris said.

"Obviously, we're not even at the tip of the iceberg," she said.

An estimated 50,000 American students are recovering substance abusers seeking support. Existing college recovery programs in the United States have the capacity to support, at most, a few thousand students. According to some estimates, more than 40 percent of student attrition involves substance abuse " and recovering substance abusers are at an even higher risk.

Texas Tech printed approximately 1,000 copies of its curriculum.

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