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CSS helps students get CLEAN by overcoming addiction

Jess Scherman By  Jess Scherman  |  @jescherman  | 

Reports and articles discussing the dangers of binge drinking and drug experimentation among college students have been circulating for decades. College students are among the most susceptible to addiction, regardless of socioeconomic status, GPA or family dynamic. Substance abuse doesn't discriminate.  

But what happens if you're not the stereotypical college student looking for a good time after a week of academic excellence in the classroom? What if you're actively recovering from severe substance abuse or a documented addiction yet still hoping to succeed in college?  

Recovery gives you a second chance at life, but it can be difficult to tap into those new opportunities without a support system of people who understand what you're going through. From the debilitating confines of addiction to the painstaking climb toward recovery, and now the crucial phase of transitioning back to the normalcies of life with a newfound clarity and purpose, it's not always easy to locate people who've lived through similar experiences.  

That's where programs like CLEAN come into play. They are specifically designed to help students in recovery cope with the academic demands of college life while still pursuing a successful and sober future. Equally important, they strive to send a very clear message to their struggling community members: You are not alone!  

College students & substance abuse: The facts

The trends in substance abuse among college students shift with the times, but experts assert that the cyclical pattern of alcohol and drug use remains the same from year to year:

  • Substance abuse rises
  • Concern over substance abuse rises
  • Substance abuse prevention efforts increase
  • Substance abuse decreases
  • Substance abuse prevention efforts decrease
  • Substance abuse rises  

And so the cycle goes.  

These theories may sound dramatic, but the truth is, social pressure, academic ambition and the availability of substances can create a toxic environment for college students. Approximately 80 percent of U.S. college students report having abused alcohol, while around 31 percent report symptoms of alcohol addiction.  

Additionally, the proportion of students who abused tranquilizers like Xanax and Valium increased 450 percent between 1993 and 2005—343 percent for opioids like Percocet and OxyContin, 93 percent for stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, and 52 percent for illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. All indications suggest these numbers have continued to soar  

CLEAN recovery support program: How it works

The CLEAN program is not a treatment program. Rather, it's a recovery support program designed to assist students who have completed treatment, while also opening its doors to any student who has the desire to get sober, connecting them with quality treatment or community support. Experts urge people to remain active while recovering from substance abuse and CLEAN provides a way for students to fully engage in the college experience while living a life of recovery.  

CLEAN serves all Twin Ports institutions—the colleges and universities that exist in the Duluth-Superior region of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It offers three distinct tracks to provide support within each phase of recovery:

  • CLEAN (contract): This track represents the comprehensive program offered to all Twin Ports college students. Students in this stage seek full recovery support and sign an agreement indicating their commitment to and understanding of the program.
  • CLEAN Intended: This track is designed for students who may be hesitant to commit to the full program and would like to try it out before officially committing.
  • RESTORE: This final track is offered exclusively to St. Scholastica students and is intended for individuals who are not in recovery, but are struggling with or worried about their reliance on drugs or alcohol.  

CLEAN is a community-based and peer-driven initiative, providing opportunities for individual counseling, peer coaching, on-campus sober living, 12-step meetings, accountability and community service. Through its participation in the CLEAN program, The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) is committed to fostering a safe and rewarding environment for all students, guiding both academic and personal success.  

Support your recovery in college

The social fabric of college can be difficult to navigate no matter what your circumstances, but those difficulties can become even more harrowing in the midst of recovery from substance abuse. Living in recovery from addiction is less about picking up the broken pieces of your past, and more about creating a new future for yourself.  

If you're reading this, you've likely decided you'd like college to be a part of that new path.  

CSS maintains an unwavering foundation on Benedictine values: community, hospitality, respect, stewardship and love of learning. Those values are more than just a brightly-colored banner under which we walk—they are the driving purpose through which we aim to serve our students.  

The College's commitment to the CLEAN program is one of many ways it encourages students to live those values, providing all students with the safe and supportive community needed to foster success and personal growth in college.

If you're interested in learning more about the program and what it takes to apply, visit the CLEAN information page, and don't hesitate to reach out with additional questions.

Jess Scherman


Jess is a higher education content creator who writes on behalf of The College of St. Scholastica. She researches and writes content to help current and prospective students on their path to educational success. As a published poet with a passion for the transformative nature of higher education, she loves discovering new ways to use her writing as a tool to help others.

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