Bluefield Recovery Center—a Durham residential program for university students recovering from substance abuse—has become the first recovery house of its kind to be associated with Duke.
The program, which opened in July, currently has four students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University and is expecting its first Duke student later this week. Located a few blocks off of Duke’s East Campus, the center provides housing and support for students who are recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, while allowing them to remain enrolled in classes. Bluefield is currently working with both Duke and UNC administrators and hopes to expand its presence into other universities as well, said Jeff Giorgi, co-manager of the Center.
“This program is particularly useful for students as they return to campus after a period of intensive, focused therapy,” wrote Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek in an email Thursday.
Total cost of residence comes down to approximately $3,200 per month. Duke students have the option of applying their University housing payment to the Bluefield residence cost, Giorgi said.
Bluefield’s facilities include five apartment buildings, four of which are used for residential purposes, Giorgi said. The purpose of residential living is to create a space in which students can commit to substance-free living without external pressure.
“It’s a very intentional recovery community—a real commitment to a quality of life and enjoyment of college without alcohol and drugs,” Giorgi said.
Although Bluefield is the only recovery house affiliated with Duke, the University has traditionally offered a variety of on-campus services for students struggling with substance abuse, including three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held at the Duke Student Wellness Center per week and the BASICS substance abuse screening program. Students who meet the criteria for substance abuse may also be referred to Duke-affiliated addiction therapists in Durham.
Alcohol is the most frequently abused substance on campus, said Daniel Perry, senior program coordinator at the Wellness Center. Last year, 174 students were referred to the BASICS program, which assists students in identifying their patterns of use and risk factors.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 19 percent of college-age students meet the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but only 5 percent seek treatment.
Carol Rose, marketing specialist for the Collegiate Recovery Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, attributed the high rate of alcohol abuse to unique college stressors.
“Students are coming into a hostile environment, where on any given day, any given minute, there’re folks talking about parties and beer pong and what have you,” Rose said. “It’s an anxious time for anybody.”
Research indicates that alcohol abuse is particularly prevalent in universities that have an entrenched Greek system, are committed to athletics and reside in the South, Giorgi said.
“It’s an interesting triad, and Duke is right in the middle of all that,” he said.
Resident coordinators and assistants are trained to recognize signs of substance abuse during training, said Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez.
“We’d refer them to CAPS, and we have to let the RC know,” said sophomore Kelly Murphy, a resident assistant of Gilbert-Addoms. “There’s not a lot we can do to stop them, but what we can do is offer support and check up on them.”