UW-Madison has resources to help students struggling with substance abuse but advocates hope to do much more.

Collegiate Recovery in Madison, Wisconsin

Collegiate Recovery 101

On Wisconsin magazine, Fall 2015


I’ve been following the local collegiate recovery movement for years, since before it even had a name. Back in the Spring of 2014 I’d profiled Tom Meyer, co-founder of Aaron’s House, for an Isthmus cover story on young people getting sober. Tom’s own son had gotten clean in 2004, only to be tragically killed in a car accident just five months later. By 2008, Tom and his supporters had built a safe house where college-age guys could get that college life experience, yet still have a sort of buffer between their fledgling sobriety and Wisconsin’s notorious drinking culture. Although its namesake never got to see it for himself, Aaron’s House is just the sort of place he was hoping to live.

Fast forward a few years and complementary, often overlapping initiatives are really gaining traction, both locally and nationwide. The Live Free student group was formed, a women’s version of Aaron’s House opened up (then called Connect House, now called Grace House), UW-Madison got some recovery-focused apartments in Pres House Next Step, and kids across the city are working hard to morph their momentum into a sustainable movement that will, hopefully, outlast their own student careers. Even since this article was published in the Fall of 2015, there are so many new developments to report, so I’m going to keep watching. You should, too.

—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin

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