Call for Help

New support program available for students in addiction recovery

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has launched Badger Recovery, an institutionally supported collegiate recovery program that provides supports, services, and community for students in active recovery from alcohol, substance use, and other addictions. Badger Recovery strives to provide a safe environment that empowers students to stay on track with their recovery to help achieve academic and personal goals.

According to a study administered by University Health Services in 2019, 46 percent of UW-Madison students reported high-risk drinking. Data also shows that the majority of students socialize and find their community around alcohol use. The campus drinking culture can  be alienating for students in recovery from substance use disorders and/or addictions. Badger Recovery aims to support students in recovery—as well as students who do not want to engage with substance use—by providing access to a sober community. In fall 2020, 91 first-year UW-Madison students identified as being in recovery from a substance use disorder. Using a calculator developed by Texas Tech University, we can estimate that approximately 600 UW-Madison students are in active recovery.

“Badger Recovery is an extension of UW-Madison’s core values of caring and excellence,” says University Health Services Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Jenny Damask. “We are excited that Badger Recovery will be an important part of the Wisconsin Experience for many students.”

Badger Recovery is no cost to all students and provides weekly recovery-oriented meetings facilitated by students that encourage and provide structure for wellness and growth. Badger Recovery also offers students connection to academic and community resources, sober events on and off campus, and activities to promote overall health and recovery. In the future, the program hopes to offer leadership and civic engagement opportunities, service opportunities through recovery-oriented support groups, and participation with the Association of Recovery in Higher Education’s regional and national events.

Badger Recovery is supported by four staff members: Damask, a project assistant, and two student assistants. “Student staff have been integral to facilitating peer-to-peer meetings and planning and hosting events,” says Damask.

“I’m excited about the opportunities that Badger Recovery will provide for students like myself who are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle,” says undergraduate student Denver Baker who is one of the program’s student assistants. “A collegiate recovery program on campus provides students with meaningful opportunities to engage in their own recovery. It means a lot to know that the university supports students in recovery.”

Students interested in Badger Recovery do not personally have to be struggling with an addiction. In order to challenge the existing drinking culture and stigmas associated with recovery and abstaining from substance use on campus, it will also require allies to participate and support the program.

For more information on Badger Recovery, email recovery@uhs.wisc.edu or visit  uhs.wisc.edu/recovery.