Last fall, UC Merced’s first peer-led recovery program — known as Bobcats for Recovery — began meeting weekly to help support undergraduate and graduate students in recovery from substance use disorders.
As the recovery group’s first coordinator, student John Dovales Flores worked to educate others and change the support culture on campus.
“When you’re doing outreach, there’s a stigma around drug use and recovery,” he said. “We are trying to change the way that we talk about addiction — in the group and across campus.”
Seven years ago, Dovales Flores went into recovery for substance addiction and began rebuilding his life. He committed to helping others on the journey to recovery, regardless of the type of addiction, and was instrumental in starting the campus group.
“I know there are plenty of students who share my experience,” said Dovales Flores, an anthropology major who transferred from Merced College. “We want to help students who are scared to get help or think they don’t need help when they actually do.”
Bobcats for Recovery was established with a $1,000 grant from the UC Office of the President, which has invested in services for students in recovery as part of a growing movement on college campuses nationwide. The program received additional funding from Transforming Youth Recovery, a nonprofit that provides grants and technical assistance to collegiate recovery programs nationwide.
Health Promotion Coordinator Kristin Hlubik said programs like UC Merced’s peer recovery group are extremely beneficial for college students who are struggling emotionally or academically.
“Our overall goal is to provide students with the support they need to thrive on campus,” Hlubik said. “It’s important that we support all of our students with all of their unique needs.”
Although Dovales Flores graduated in December, other students have stepped up to help the recovery group continue to thrive.
For information about Bobcats for Recovery, email email@example.com.