In response to a lack of on-campus spaces for students to discuss sobriety, the Campus Recovery Center at Binghamton University (CRC) aims to uphold its mission of creating a safe, accessible space for students to have such conversations.

Officially established this semester, the CRC has been in the works for about one year. According to founding member and CRC’s secretary Sari Richards, a senior double-majoring in English and philosophy, politics and law, finding a sense of community is a key aspect of sobriety and having an on-campus meeting place helps facilitate this for students.

“Most of the sober spaces in Binghamton are found off campus and, pre-COVID-19, were sometimes difficult to get to while living on campus or busy with classes,” Richards wrote in an email. “The founding members of the CRC wanted to create a space that is easy for students to get to and provides a safe area in which they can talk about drug and alcohol abuse and addiction in the context of getting sober in college. Finding commonality in recovery is a vital aspect of overcoming addiction, and fostering a space where students can explore sobriety together will allow for a much more fulfilling, enjoyable experience in school and life in general.”

The CRC has been working with both the Student Association (SA) and the University to establish the CRC. They will be seeking a charter from the SA this week.

With the heavy presence of drinking and partying in college, Richards explained that confronting drug and alcohol abuse and getting sober can cause “unique obstacles” for students.

“It’s estimated that roughly 20 percent of college kids meet criteria for alcohol use disorder,” Richards wrote. “With the normalization of heavy drinking in college, it is often difficult for students to accurately assess their own drinking or drug habits. Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse patterns frequently start to develop or further mature in college, which means it can be the first time where people start to face consequences for their use.”

The CRC had their first meeting on Feb. 12 via Zoom. Richards said the first meeting went well and was attended by both students and faculty.

“Our first meeting was focused on feeling out the attendees, getting to know more about them, what they need and want out of the CRC and their own journeys with drugs and alcohol,” Richards said. “This is a learning experience for us all, and, currently, we are focused on meeting students, faculty and staff of [BU and listening to] where they are at.”

Meetings will be held on Fridays at 5 p.m. and will continue to be held over Zoom given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CRC is also working on finding a physical space on campus. Richards said anybody who has a relationship to drug and alcohol abuse, whether it is a personal relationship or one from having loved ones who have struggled with addiction, are encouraged to attend.

“We want to provide hope for those in the depths of addiction that there is a way to get sober and live a life they want to live,” Richards wrote. “Also, and central to our founding principles, is to meet people where they’re at. We want to provide resources and community for anyone in any stage of recovery and aid in student’s transitions into a life in recovery that best suits them. Everyone’s recovery looks different. They look different because people are different and what they need and what works for them will be different. We won’t turn anyone away for differences in opinion on how their recovery should go.”

The Zoom ID for the meeting on Friday, Feb. 19 is 917 7896 4537. For more information, visit the CRC’s Instagram page, @bucampusrecoverycenter.