Substance use has undoubtedly increased during the ongoing pandemic both on and off college campuses. Gonzaga’s Our Unique Recovery (OUR) House program offers students a safe space to work on recovery from substance use while still pursuing their educational goals.

OUR House has been on GU’s campus since 2013 as the university’s Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP). The program provides every student the opportunity to connect and share experiences in a more intimate setting, keeping individuality at the forefront of the conversation.

“GU’s approach to recovery focuses on each individual’s unique needs and goals, be it complete sobriety, harm reduction or simply learning more,” said Sydney Cheifetz, health educator in GU’s Office of Health Promotion and CRP program coordinator, in an email.

The program and its leaders recognize that students all have vastly different lived experiences and want to provide each student the tools they need to recover in whatever way makes sense to them.

“Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential,” Cheifetz said in an email.

Recovery looks different for many different people, and OUR House supports all students in their efforts on their journeys.

“The ultimate goal is to aid students in achieving their own unique recovery goals, whether they be sobriety, harm reduction or reduced use,” said Landon Toth, recovery graduate assistant, in an email.

Although the program has been around for eight years, OUR House is ever-evolving. This year, the program has been granted $60,000 from Washington state in order to expand and include more harm reduction and recovery resources.

While OUR House recognizes the unique nature of every individual’s recovery, it emphasizes the need to develop a strong community in order to best support students at all stages of their recovery.

“Individuals seeking recovery often struggle to find support because they feel trapped between two worlds,” Toth said in an email. “Their non-substance-using friends shame them for their use, and their substance-using friends invalidate their desires to change. This creates an enduring sense of isolation, which is the greatest enemy of recovery.”

This trap can create a lot of hesitation for students who are considering reaching out for support or recovery and harm reduction resources. But that is often what kickstarts a person’s journey to recovery.

“Personally, it wasn’t until I reached out and found support that my recovery journey began to gain momentum,” Toth said in an email.

OUR House allows GU students pursuing recovery opportunities to connect with one another in several ways. 

The program offers sober social events, which provide substance-free supportive spaces for students. In conjunction with SpikeNites, they hosted a sober Easter egg hunt and a sober bleach night on campus on March 26 and 27.

OUR House also holds weekly all-recovery meetings on Mondays and Fridays both in-person and on Zoom. The meetings serve as a place for students to come together, chat about their lives and other things that might benefit their recovery.

Additionally, the program offers drop-in hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those students curious about recovery, harm reduction or ways in which they can benefit from OUR House.

Several leaders at OUR House have personal connections to addiction and recovery, motivating them especially during these trying times to offer as much support to students as they can.

“My personal and professional connections to addiction and recovery drives my passion for creating communities where recovery can thrive and helping individuals discern how they can integrate recovery or harm reduction into their lives,” Cheifetz said in an email.

The staff is motivated to be allies to students, and encourages those who need it to take the leap and reach out for support.

“I am an earnest advocate for OUR House because it provides students with the same thing that saved my life: a safe, non-judgmental community that facilitates support and connection among individuals with similar lived experiences,” Toth said in an email.

Spring semester drop-in hours are:  

Tuesdays from 11 a.m. – noon.  

Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. 

 Drop-in hours and meeting times are hosted both in-person at 1211 N. Cincinnati  St. or via Zoom (please email recovery@gonzaga.edu to receive Zoom link). Learn more at www.gonzaga.edu/crc.

Dagny Albano is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @dagny_albano.

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