USC to expand The Haven later this month

Formerly just a residential program, student recovery community The Haven will expand per university request with the opening of The Haven Center in the Office of Religious Life this month.

The community provides support for students seeking help with substance abuse issues. The Haven offers group or individual sessions with USC alum and Program Director Nick Techentin, as well as peer support and events created by fellow students in recovery.

University professors, administrators, parents and alumni will join in providing services and treatment for substance abuse where The Haven residential community is located in University Gateway. The Haven will establish a physical base on campus for the tight-knit community that lives in The Haven, as well as its external community of students seeking substance abuse support.

Nearly one out of five young adults ages 18 to 25 suffers from a substance abuse problem. In response to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s call to expand recovery support services on college campuses, the nation has seen rapid growth in collegiate recovery communities. USC is establishing itself as a leader in this movement, providing both residential and extended services for students through The Haven and The Haven Center.

“We began last year with very few people and a couple of allies at USC who were interested in helping create this,” co-founder Holly Sherman said. “We are now reaching out to the greater USC student community, even people who are just starting to look at their drug use [and] alcohol use, and thinking that maybe they’re overdoing it a little.”

Sherman and fellow co-founder Sharon Weber run The Haven with their team of collaborators, known as Recovery Grads.

In a college setting where parties are littered with drugs and alcohol, early treatment could prevent dangerous habits from turning into a lifelong dependencies. Though many students at The Haven said they overcame dangerous addictions, others use the community as a safe place where they can get through school without drinking.

“I came to USC, and that’s really where my drug and alcohol problems began,” said Techentin, who is 12 1/2 years sober. “The word needs to get out that it’s okay. This problem exists, and there’s ways to treat it and live life and have fun and not have to hide off in some rehab or leave the school out of shame. You can coexist in the collegiate environment and stay sober.”

Ten students currently live in The Haven’s residential community, with several more slated to move in this January. The Haven utilizes weekly individual wellness plans created in collaboration with Techentin, community gatherings and service work. It also addresses optional tutoring sessions, sober outings, retreats and more.

Almost all of The Haven’s services are free. For students who are not sure about entering the recovery program, The Haven hosts meetings every Sunday on the roof of Gateway at 6 p.m. Attendees do not need to be sober nor in a recovery program to show up.