Recovery Warriors await student involvement

Allison Mueller

Former grad student and certified addiction counselor Michael Forsythe takes part in a support group for students who struggle with addiction. Every Tuesday night he waits on campus for students to attend Recovery Warriors. (Photo by Nikko Aries)
Former grad student and certified addiction counselor Michael Forsythe takes part in a support group for students who struggle with addiction. Every Tuesday night he waits on campus for students to attend Recovery Warriors. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

Michaela Gaffke / Winonan

Every Tuesday night, Michael Forsythe, a graduate student and certified addiction counselor, waits in Kryzsko 252.

He is a part of Recovery Warriors, a support group for students recovering from addiction. The group started in the fall of 2014 after receiving a $10,000 grant from Transforming Youth Recovery.

Since its beginning, the Recovery Warriors have had trouble gaining student interest.

“Sometimes there will be one or two students who come, but there hasn’t been much interest,” Forsythe said.

Professor Mitchell Moore, the faculty sponsor who started the program, attended Winona State as an undergrad and graduate student, and said there were students then, including himself, who were struggling with substance abuse. As Winona State’s population has increased, he knows there are students struggling; Recovery Warriors just needs to attract them.

Recovery Warriors used to meet at the Lutheran Campus Center attached to Mugby Junction on Huff Street, but moved to Kryzsko 252 after it felt like “a meeting in a fish bowl,” according to Forsythe. People would stop in thinking the coffee shop was open.

The group is hoping to have a drop-in center. This would be a dedicated spot similar to a lounge where students can stop in to talk with other students and de-stress. A situation like this would be ideal, Moore said.

“This would be a designated area for recovery, with microwaves, a fridge and access to computers,” Forsythe said.

Recovery Warriors tried to find a space in Wabasha Hall, but it did not come through, with Wabasha being under construction.

Currently, they have no other plans for a drop-in center.

“The hopes are for a spot on West Campus, but that brings the obstacle of transportation, and that it is out of the way, but it would be a start,” Moore said.

Moore said they also hoped for a sober and recovery wing in one of the dorms. He said if Winona State had this, it would be a way to attract students who are struggling with substance abuse.

Another obstacle facing the Recovery Warriors is the fact that Moore’s office is on the Rochester Campus. Along with this, Moore and Forsythe are older, so finding a person who is younger and interested in bringing new ideas would be helpful, Moore said.

“The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse started a support group for recovering students the year before Winona State, and are having the same struggle,” Moore said.

Recovery Warriors has tried posters, passing out stress balls, a webpage, tabling and other forms of advertisement, Forsythe said.

They also tried sober events, such as movie nights and a concert this past October, but Moore said the attendance was mostly ally students, not students in recovery.

“Our name is out there; people know, we just aren’t getting attendance,” Forsythe said.

Forsythe said he will continue to sit and wait every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for students in recovery. His motivation comes from Alcoholics Anonymous, which started in a similar fashion. The founders sat and waited for people to come, and eventually they did.

“No way are we ready to give up yet,” Moore said. “Slow start doesn’t mean no start.”

By Michaela Gaffke