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New Sober Living Facility to Provide UCSB Students with Safe Haven in Isla Vista

The Haven at College plans to open house equipped to accommodate 7 students, provide counseling and recovery services

Students at Drexel University in Philadelphia gather at a sober living facility run by The Haven at College. A Haven home is to open in Isla Vista this summer. Click to view larger
Students at Drexel University in Philadelphia gather at a sober living facility run by The Haven at College. A Haven home is to open in Isla Vista this summer. (The Haven at College photo)

Isla Vista’s party culture is well-documented, with its teeming street parties and ample booze. As of this summer, however, UC Santa Barbara students choosing sobriety will have more options when a seven-bed sober living home opens its doors on Pasado Road.

The Haven will be the home for seven people who are enrolled as students and will provide a clean and sober environment for them as they pursue their education goals.

Isla Vista’s residential facility is just one of the several that have been opened by The Haven at College, which seeks to provide residential facilities near campuses for students in recovery.

Founders Holly Sherman and Sharon Weber, who met while undergoing their own recovery, spoke with Noozhawk about their plans for the home, which is expected to open to students this July.

It’s part of the national movement of “collegiate recovery” that started 25 years ago with several colleges, including Rutgers University, which now operates a residential facility for 80 students near campus in New Brunswick, N.J., Weber said.

“We saw the need and that there was no national model,” she said, adding that over the last decade, college-aged students are the fastest-growing segment of individuals entering treatment.

Weber and Sherman launched The Haven at College three years ago as a fraternity of sorts, where students could find like-minded peers dedicated to recovery.

A pilot program began at USC, then expanded to Drexel University in Philadelphia, the University of Redlands, the University of San Francisco and now UCSB.

About 30 students make their homes in The Haven at College’s various facilities.

About six months ago, recovery advocates at UCSB reached out to The Haven officials and asked them to consider Isla Vista as a community.

The home in Isla Vista will accept students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as students with co-occurring mental-health diagnoses.

“Bringing recovery out of the shadows as a vibrant, joyful fulfilling lifestyle” is a big part of The Haven’s mission, Weber said.

Sherman said they have a “gorgeous, two-story home” on Pasado Road “in the quieter part of I.V.” picked out, although she would not confirm the location quite yet for privacy reasons.

Seven students, referred from UCSB’s drug and alcohol program, will live there with an R.A., and a clinician will meet weekly with each student for an hour to go through his or her recovery plan. Students will also meet as a group once a week.

“It’s 360-support in staying sober,” Sherman said.

The Haven staff also meet on a monthly basis with parents to give them a general update.

“At the Haven, it’s really important we keep it 100 percent clean of drugs and alcohol, and that’s not to shame or punish,” Sherman said, but because “it’s the only place in I.V. that you can guarantee that people are going to be drug- and alcohol-free.”

Not everyone will qualify for The Haven — some might need more intensive recovery programs or have more medical needs than the house is set up to handle — and the facility is geared toward high-functioning students dedicated to sobriety.

The founders also want the house to be a fun place for students, and Sherman said “we’ll stock the fridges with whatever the kids want, provided it meets their nutrition plan.” The house also will be equipped with surfboards, kayaks and other recreational gear.

Sherman and Weber also have been working with Gauchos for Recovery, a group of students that is working to encourage those in recovery.

Jackie Kurta, director of UCSB’s Alcohol and Drug Program, said The Haven founders have “really devoted their expertise to crafting a program that supports these students at this particular time in their life.”

Kurta said the recovery community at UCSB is growing. The Gauchos for Recovery group holds a weekly meeting on campus and welcomes any student recovering from substance or alcohol abuse.

“The population grows each week as people are becoming more aware of recovery as an option,” she said. “It’s been wonderful to see the program grow.”

As for the cost of The Haven residential program, Sherman and Weber are still working out details but it “will be an independent arrangement that we have with parents.”

“We really work hard to make sure nobody gets turned down,” Sherman said. “We definitely work with people on their ability to pay. So far we’ve never turned anyone down.”

Weber said many of the students living in the other Havens have become ambassadors and work to bring recovery into the mainstream. 

“They’ve struggled and overcome,” Weber said of the students.

Click here for more information about The Haven at College, or call 310.822.1234.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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