New EWU Program to Support Students Recovering from Addiction

New EWU Program to Support Students Recovering from Addiction

By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

Provided by Michael McClung

Eagles for Recovery is a new program at Eastern Washington University created to support students battling addiction and their allies.

This year, EWU’s Counseling and Wellness team received a grant to create a collegiate recovery program here on campus. This grant has funded the recently established Eagles for Recovery program. 

“We are kind of building this whole thing from scratch,” Michael McClung, Counseling and Wellness staff member and psychological counselor, said. 

As is a requirement of the grant, twelve $1000 scholarships were also awarded to students in recovery earlier this school year. 

McClung’s role is to oversee the program as a staff member until it can eventually become student lead. He has worked with addiction throughout his entire 10-year career as a counselor.

“I just think it is a really big need to make the college experience better for students and to support students that are interested in recovery and want to make some of these healthy changes and get support,” said McClung. 

Currently, the focus of McClung and the student employees working alongside him in this program is to connect with students on campus, prepare for future events, and figure out what kind of support people want to see.

“Personally, I’ve taken the role of social media,” said Mikiala Hersel, a student employee. “I have been trying to promote us on Instagram, and trying to get people to just know we exist, and kind of see what students want because we really want to support them and see what is going to help them.”

Hersel is an Addiction Studies major, and wants to work with people who struggle with substance use in her career.

“I think that recovery can be really scary to talk about, especially for young people. There is a lot of stigma around it,” Hersel said. “So, if I can just make people feel more comfortable talking about it and create a safe space for it, I would love that. I think it is something that we really need on campus.”

Hersel said that people may feel that they are missing out on social aspects of college if they prioritize their recovery from addiction. She said that this is not true at all, and creating fun and safe places for people to be sober is a huge priority of the Eagles for Recovery team.

To learn about what students would find helpful, the team has put out a survey (here). So far, responses indicate that people are interested in outdoor activities such as a walking group, yoga, or lawn games as the weather gets nicer. When it is cold, people seem interested in having game nights or self care nights.

“There’s a wide variety of options out there and we are willing to try them out and see what students like and what engages them,” Hersel said

These activities are not limited to only those interested in recovery or harm reduction. Allies are encouraged to participate as well.

“[being an ally can mean] just being willing to listen to other students’ struggles and experiences and doing what would best suit them,” Hersel said. “Whether a student just needs someone to talk to when they are struggling, or actively going out and going something to get their mind off stuff, [being an ally is] ultimately being there to support your peers through whatever it is they’re going through.”

EWU students can expect to see a kickoff event for Eagles in Recovery the second week of the spring quarter, and a recovery group every week after.

Updates on events for Eagles for Recovery can be found here.