Collegiate Recovery Program

About the Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP)

Students support each other while maintaining personal accountability and building meaningful relationships based in friendship and sobriety while learning how to balance their education with their recovery. Fairfield University’s CRP is overseen by a campus Advisory Board that promotes healthier choices and substance-free living through:

  • A nurturing, affirming environment for students
  • An opportunity to pursue academic, personal, and professional goals

  • Support for individuals who wish to build meaningful and purposeful lives


 Goals and objectives of the CRP

  • Provide our students with a structured and nurturing program to promote sustained recovery

  • Attend 12- Step meetings regularly and utilize sponsorship within their 12- step fellowship

  • Meet academic goals through individualized academic advising and support

  • Be of service to others at the campus and local levels

  • Engage in Ignatian Spirituality

  • Model for others a full university experience without the use of alcohol or drugs


Available Services

There are many services available for students in recovery :

  • Recovery housing
  • Recovery lounge on campus
  • Group and individual counseling

  • Academic success support

  • AA 12-step meetings on campus and transportation to meetings off campus

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) meetings

  • Family orientation and support services 

  • Certified recovery coaching

  • Career counseling

  • Community resources

  • Recreational activities

  • Community service opportunities

  • Ignation Spirituality retreats
  • Wellness programming focused on mind, body and spirit


Recovery House

Fairfield University Recovery House

Fairfield University Recovery House offers a unique opportunity for students in recovery from alcohol and/or drug dependence. An unmarked University Recovery House for male students is conveniently located within walking distance to campus. It provides students with an independent living environment of fully integrated support services of our Collegiate Recovery Program.

It is the latest initiative in Fairfield University's efforts to support students in recovery.

Students support each other while maintaining personal accountability and building meaningful relationships based in friendship and sobriety while learning how to balance their education with their recovery. A house manager lives on premise and is available to advise and support students, while building community.

Students must apply to live in the Recovery House and agree to abide by the standards of the community and the requirements of the program some of which include achieving academic success, attending meetings, program participation, having a sponsor in their 12 step program and passing random drug screens. Staffing is provided by qualified professionals with years of experience in the field of addiction and recovery.

Our recovery program includes support groups, meetings, dinners, and organized activities such as attendance at sporting and campus events, rock climbing trips, and other fun outings.

Housing is not a requirement to participate in the Collegiate Recovery Program but students may find it to be extremely valuable in supporting their recovery.

Recovery House featured in New Beginnings.

Read a student's testimony in My Story from Recovery Campus.

Read more about the Recovery House in the AJCU Connections, a publication that provides information about the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S.

Learn more about the Recovery House from a January 2014 Fairfield University press release.


The Recovery Group

This group meets weekly and welcomes those who have decided to live a clean, sober life. The group is based on abstinence, with a focus on spirituality. Students use the 12-step model and support each other in recovery to:

  • Identify triggers and attain greater understanding of progression of use and the 12-step process

  • Develop strategies to manage high-risk situations

  • Create support systems for maintaining ongoing recovery

  • Build community and support for one another

  • Facilitated by a licensed Addictions Specialist and a Certified Recovery Coach


The Recovery Lounge

The lounge is a dedicated space for students in recovery to relax and study at their leisure while on campus and in between classes. The lounge has a TV, gaming systems, a mini fridge, and coffee station. It provides a comfortable and private setting for students.


Program Recognition


Substance Abuse Assessment

With a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, this is a bio-psycho-social evaluation of a student’s use of alcohol and other drugs to determine the appropriate level of substance abuse intervention. This is an on-campus, 45-minute confidential session using Motivational Interviewing (MI) to explore readiness to change.

Visit our Substance Abuse resource page.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Groups on Campus

AA meetings are held on campus several days each week at various locations:

  • Wednesday: 11:30 - PepsiCo Theatre
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. - Canisius Hall, Ground Floor

More AA meetings in the Fairfield area
For additional information go to

NA meetings Narcotics Anonymous

Al-Anon and ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) on campus
Both organizations provide information and support resources for those individuals affected by someone else's drinking.  For more information and meeting times on campus, please contact Counseling & Psychological Services at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2146.



From our students:

"This house is so much more than a house for me to lay my head at night. It has become my home, not just for me but for others as well. This is a safe and sober environment for college students to maneuver through the tough road of being in recovery while receiving a college education. It has given me an opportunity to achieve the degree I want to pursue, at an unbelievable university. I am truly blessed. Fairfield has given me the opportunity to restore integrity and credibility back into my life. For it to be over two and half years since my last drink, it is nothing short of a miracle - for what Fairfield has done for me, is nothing short of a miracle. "

"As a newly recovering alcoholic I was worried about returning to life on campus, and how I would adjust to a sober life amongst my typical college-student peers.  The CRP has relieved my anxieties by providing a close-knit support network which focuses on a sober lifetyle, and brings forth a great group of students who are more than willing to offer help and get involved in activiites. The CRP has made a sober college life manageable!"

"Collegiate recovery program has allowed me to live the life I've always dreamed of at college, yet clean and sober. It is a safe house when necessary with guys working toward the same goal. CRP has made the tough task of going to college sober, that much easier. I don't think I'd be where I am today without CRP." 

"I was waiting to be expelled or thrown in jail. I only knew how to live a life with drugs and alcohol. Fairfield University's collegiate recovery program and the members of the CRP community showed me how to live a life I could be proud of and that could be positive. The CRP has helped me become a person, a student, a brother, a son, and an uncle for the first time in my life. I couldn't do it alone, I needed all the help CRP gave me."

 "Fairfield University's collegiate recovery program helped me get back into school after being suspended twice. It gave me a sober environment to live in and provided a clean college experience. I can't be thankful enough – this program will revolutionize the future of collegiate recovery."

 "Before learning about Fairfield University’s collegiate recovery program, I couldn't imagine staying sober at college. With the constant peer pressure staying sober seemed to daunting of a task. CRP has given me a home and an opportunity. It's helped make college a fun, sober, and enriching experience."


Collegiate Recovery Program Staff

Susan Birge, EdD., MS, LPC

As the Assistant Vice President/Director of Counseling & Psychological Services at Fairfield University, Dr.Birge oversees the Student Health Center, Counseling & Psychological Services, the University’s Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, including the Collegiate Recovery Program, and the Office of Disability Support Services. Dr. Birge is an adjunct professor in clinical mental health counseling at the graduate level at both Fairfield University and University of Bridgeport. She also maintains a private psychotherapy practice.

Dr. Birge holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, a Masters in Counseling, and is certified as a Red Cross Mental Health Disaster Responder. A former Woman of the Year in Stratford, she was awarded the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy (Lauralton Hall) Claven Award in 2011. She was also selected for membership of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society and as an Outstanding Young Woman of America.


Lisa Arnold, MFT,LADC   Clinical Director 

Lisa Arnold graduated from University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and from Fairfield University with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  In 2001, she became licensed in Alcohol and Drug Counseling through the State of CT.  She has nineteen years' experience working with addiction, in various treatment venues as well as in the school setting.  She has a private practice in Woodbury, CT and is an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport teaching the graduate class Theories in Group Process.  


Dawn DeBiase, LCSW   Academic Support Coordinator

Assistant Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs Charles F. Dolan School of Business Fairfield University Dawn DeBiase has been serving in an Assistant Dean capacity (in three academic dean's offices at the University) for over a decade.  A licensed independent clinical social worker, Dawn utilizes her counseling skills (particularly her expertise in Motivational Interviewing -- her area of research -- a counseling style with demonstrated effectiveness in eliciting and strengthening motivation for change) with students.  In addition to directing the undergraduate program for the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, Dawn is also an adjunct faculty member in the Marriage and Family Therapy program in our GSEAP.


Joseph Graziano, MA, NCC  Program

Psychotherapist/Certified Recovery Coach

Joe is a two time alumnus of Fairfield University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1991, and a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2013.  He became a Certified Recovery Coach in 2014, and has over 7 years of experience serving the addiction recovery community.  He has over 2 years of experience as a psychotherapist for Fairfield University Counseling & Psychological Services, is a National Certified Counselor, and is a license-eligible professional counselor in the state of CT. 


Pamela Paulmann, MPH  Wellness Coordinator

Pam began at Fairfield University in 2008 working with different substance abuse grants.  She manages evidenced-based programs to educate and help students make healthier choices concerning substance use by enhancing student decision making skills.  Pam also facilitates  Choices, a brief substance abuse prevention and harm reduction class for college students.  She graduated with a B.A. from Boston College and an M.P.H. from Columbia University.