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$675,000 in federal grant money awarded for substance abuse programs at Virginia colleges

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Eight universities and colleges will be receiving $675,000 worth of substance use recovery program grants through the federal State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services allocated the funds this week.

“Young people who are often living away from home for the first time can be particularly vulnerable, and college campuses can be difficult places if you’re trying to avoid drinking or using substances,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release. “Collegiate recovery programs provide critical resources to help students in recovery have a successful college experience and give them the tools they need to be healthy and thriving well beyond graduation.”

The SOR grants are provided to states battling the opioid crisis. The commonwealth has received almost $40 million over the past three years.

The college programs will be modeled off of the Rams in Recovery program used at Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU provides a “recovery clubhouse” for students, a spot in which they can attend recovery meetings, socialize and do homework. They also organize events, offer trips and offer recovery housing and scholarships.

“We only had a couple students coming in when we started Rams in Recovery, but we saw impacts almost immediately as the university and individual donors invested more in the program,” Rams in Recovery Program Coordinator Tom Bannard said in the news release. “Students thrive once you start supporting them in recovery. Their success attracts other struggling students into the program and they motivate other people in recovery to come back to school. It’s a wonderful cycle to watch.”

The schools participating with the VCU are Longwood University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union University and Washington and Lee University.