Not Freshmen Any More: The First Two Semesters of Alpha 180

May 15, 2018

Alpha 180 was always about realizing a vision. We believe that through sobriety, community, and purpose, young adults in recovery are capable of achieving anything. We are not about containing the damage of active addiction; instead increasing the upside of inspired recovery. But one short year ago the vision was just that: a vision.

Surrounded by our current community of inspired Alpha 180 pioneers, I forget about opening our doors for the Fall semester wondering if the world would buy in to this lofty idea. Faith, fastidiousness, and fortitude were called on as we ploddingly enrolled a small, but motivated first group of students.

As a staff, we asked ourselves, “What does a young adult in early recovery truly need to become a successful student?” We settled on clinical, academic, residential, and social support.

Today, we have a licensed Intensive Outpatient Program with a curriculum intentionally designed to serve the needs of the transitioning young adult, the up-and-coming student that knows the “5 things you’re supposed to do” and that addiction is a brain disease. These folks have a foundation in abstinence-based recovery but are seeking a peer group and a purpose.

We focus on identity discovery and relationship cultivation, creating connections that students call on, long after the program itself concludes. The Alpha 180 clinical program serves a need that was missing prior. It is a place to dive deeper and continue therapeutic work, in a group setting, in vivo, with folks that are just like them.

We are learning just as much as our students. When a student sits down with their Academic Case Manager for the first time they may say something like, “I tried college 3 times, but I’ve never made it more than 2 semesters. I have about 50 hours of credit, I think. My GPA? Something like 1.75. I was a business major, but I’m really not sure that’s what I want to do anymore.”

Our Case Managers have become resource-finding detectives, creating manageable goal plans that truly move these students’ lives forward. We have integrated standardized strengths assessments and executive functioning skill development to support in academic readiness. All the while, helping our clients build life skills, find employment, and enact healthy independence.

The true gift of our first two semesters, however, is our community. We have taken our students skiing, hosted volleyball tournaments, packed the clubhouse with over 150 people for recovery speakers, held concerts, and host four weekly meetings.

I watch in amazement as our residents enthusiastically welcome each new member, surround them with love, and pull them along in to the stream of life. When I think of the vision of Alpha 180 it’s not embodied by our facility, program, or even staff. It’s embodied by the young men and women that are showing up for their recovery, their education, and for each other.

I am humbled by the warm reception we have been given, the faith the families have shown enrolling their loved ones in this unproven program, and the growth we have been blessed to experience.

I am humbled by the diligence of my staff who have tirelessly worked to build a program of which we are truly proud.

I am humbled when I see recovery happening day after day at Alpha 180.

There are infinite lessons, boundless possibilities, and countless memories yet to be made. Thank you for a truly amazing first two semesters and stay tuned – the party is just getting started!

By: Nico Doorn | Recovery Services Director