Stepping Stones house provides support
Alcoholism and substance abuse drive people down a dark road. Jerry Pastore’s goal is to be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Pastore has been a substance abuse specialist at WSU Counseling Services since 2001. Each day he meets with students, provides consultation for addictions and oversees the Impact program for students who have violated the WSU Alcohol Policy.
He said WSU belongs to the Association of Recovery Schools, one of only 10 universities in the nation that participate in this kind of support system.
“We feel really good that we’re doing something that other schools don’t provide,” he said. “WSU tries to support students with diverse needs.”
In January, Pastore added a big project to his workload. He became the coordinator of Stepping Stones, a therapeutic house for students recovering from alcohol or substance abuse.
Stepping Stones is a nonprofit pilot project, created to provide counseling and live-in support for students, Pastore said. WSU Business Affairs purchased the house and Counseling Services is raising funds to pay off the cost.
There are two students and a graduate adviser living in the house. The recovering students requested to live there and have told Pastore they would not have made it through school sober without the house.
“The number one indicator of relapse is being around the party scene, so it’s vital they have a safe place to live in a safe community,” he said.
Pastore meets one-on-one with the students for counseling. They also attend a recovery group led by Pastore to talk about issues and support each other’s sober lifestyles. And they attend two self-help group meetings, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, each week.
“It is amazing to see people get their lives back,” Pastore said. “It is an incredible thing to be around.”
Stepping Stones houses men only, but Pastore hopes funding will become available for recovery housing for women too.
“More and more we are seeing students who have experienced addiction,” said Patricia Maarhuis, alcohol and drug counseling, assessment and prevention services coordinator. Stepping Stones is one way to provide strong support and a healthy atmosphere for recovering students, she said.
“The house is among many positive programs that the university has to show the community that we do take addiction seriously,” she said.