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Michael’s Story: Finding sobriety in a college environment

youth's story about struggle with substance use disorder
youth's story about struggle with substance use disorder

Name has been changed to protect privacy

Study all day, party all night. For many college students, this is the lifestyle.

Whether it is to relieve stress, participate in college culture, or both, students often don’t realize the problems drugs and alcohol are causing in their life until it is too late.

That’s what happened to Central Michigan University junior, Michael, who ran into the law in January 2022 after drinking too much.

As a first offender, Michael was offered Pretrial Diversion which allowed him to avoid conviction of an offense in exchange for agreeing to complete some type of rehabilitation program or treatment.

His first step was to see if CMU offered any type of service to avoid an additional expense to his student budget.

To Michael’s surprise, CMU offers a collegiate recovery program completely free for student which was made possible in part thanks to a $86,000 grant from Jamie Daniels Foundation and The Children’s Foundation. This funding helped bring collegiate recovery programming to Central Michigan University and two other colleges in the area.

College students dealing with alcohol and drug misuse can have health, interpersonal, and financial problems, negatively impacting their academic performance and overall success. CMCREW represents a collaborative partnership between Ten16 Recovery Network and Central Michigan University to help students struggling with alcohol and drug misuse.

CMCREW provides services to support students in recovery from substance use disorders. In addition, they provide education and early intervention services to students struggling with their alcohol and drug use. Through outpatient counseling, students can get access quality treatment services while maintaining their schoolwork and other responsibilities.

This was a major relief for Michael – not only because it was cost-free, but it was also convenient.

“At first I just thought I was a normal college kid who had bad luck – I was doing counseling because I had to,” Michael said. “With the help of my sessions, I realized over time that I was drinking way too much alcohol and I didn’t need it to have fun or manage stress”

For the past six months, Michael has had weekly meetings with his therapist who has been an essential part of Michael’s sobriety; she has helped him prioritize schoolwork and fraternity obligations when it has become too much, sort out frustrations he’s had with peers or family, and encouraged him to seek out other coping mechanisms to deal with day-to-day stresses.

Since starting therapy, Michael has made exercise part of his daily routine, enjoyed a steady social life often serving as the designated driver for friends, and even invited his therapist to speak to his fraternity about mental health and substance abuse.

“Several guys in my fraternity have mentioned how impactful her presentation was. She made us all feel comfortable talking about mental health, normalizing the challenges we all face and how we can all better deal with them besides drugs and alcohol.”

Michael has maintained sobriety since January 6, 2022. He maintains a 3.95 GPA, is president of his fraternity, and despite a challenging year is feeling better than ever.

“The CMCREW program has helped me in more ways than I expected,” Michael said. “Getting into trouble was a blessing in disguise and I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received and changes I’ve made in my life.”


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