Giving back – not giving in –
Sept. 1, 2020 – For youth, experimenting with substances is often part of the introduction to independent living away from family. Engaging in social events that convene around alcohol is particularly common for university students and is also very much an aspect of the leisure culture of Santa Barbara County, an area famous for wineries, craft beers, and gathering spots for celebration. These first years of exposure to substance use is also when young adults may notice an urgency or compulsion in their responses to alcohol or recreational drugs. The urge to participate and socialize with a peer group can confront such young people with an alienating and painful realization that moderation, for them, is not an option and that abstinence is a more realistic lifestyle. And supports for maintaining an abstinent lifestyle are not always readily available to students amidst their own age group.
This is what sets Gauchos for Recovery apart. Bryan explains that the intentions of GFR is to “help students in a different way.” While traditional alcohol and drug programs provide outpatient counseling and harm reduction campaigns, Bryan seeks to encourage ongoing support for youth. “Being in recovery is hard enough,” Bryan states, “Being a student is hard enough.” Treatment alone does not address the long term needs of maintaining a lifestyle of abstinence. Bryan’s priority is establishing a network that can assist recovering youth in maintaining their lifestyle commitment.