CAPS receives grants to aid with student substance use recovery

Christy Wyatt shows off the books available in the Recovery Library to students recovering from substance use.

Western Carolina University’s Counseling and Psychological Services is the recipient of two grants that will go toward helping students who are in recovery from substance use.

The Evergreen Foundation, a nonprofit based in Sylva, has provided a $10,000 grant that will be used to support CAPS Plus, a CAPS program that provides three separate support groups for those students and that also incorporates the student organization Catamounts For Recovery.

Another nonprofit, Recovery Communities of North Carolina, has provided a $5,000 grant that has been used to provide a Recovery Library for the students.

Part of the Evergreen Foundation grant is funding National Recovery Month activities on campus. While National Recovery Month takes place in September, CAPS substance use specialist Christy Wyatt said some of the activities planned will spill over into October. For instance, on Friday, Oct. 6, a disc jockey will be playing music in the Central Plaza to help spread the word about students in recovery. Information tables and food will be provided for students.

“We’re going to be promoting recovery to spread the word that people can still have fun when in recovery,” Wyatt said. “This is something where students can both go to school and get their education, and maintain their recovery at the same time. They don’t have to choose one or the other.”

The remainder of the Evergreen Foundation grant money will be used to send four students to attend recovery coach training. Wyatt said the training will allow the students to act as peer role models or mentors for students in recovery.

“Students in recovery have different needs,” Wyatt said. “They have different stresses that impact them, their health and their well-being on campus. Having a peer that is trained as a recovery coach can be really helpful. Here at Western, I’ve met a lot of students who are in very early recovery, meaning their sobriety might be less than a year. Coming back on campus can be a terrifying experience. To be able to have some recovery coaches that are also students would be fantastic.”

The Recovery Library provides students with SMART Recovery manuals and “The Big Book” from Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as books, DVDs and videos that can be checked out, and art supplies for students to create their own journal to help in their recovery.

WCU is in its fourth year of providing a student recovery community on campus. The three CAPS Plus support groups for those students are SMART Recovery, for students suffering from addiction who want more support around their recovery; Cats Helping Cats, a peer-facilitated group for students who have family members or loved ones suffering from addiction; and Stressed Out, which supports students who might have mental health issues like anxiety, depression or stress that can hinder their recovery.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the campus community, as well as Western North Carolina,” Wyatt said. “We’ve come a long way in three years, and I’m really looking forward to this fourth year.”