Mythbuster: Sarah Nerad

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

A young person in long-term recovery who lead her university to form a recovery community and residential house.

Sarah Nerad is a young person in long-term recovery. Since entering recovery her junior year of high school, she has been working to ensure that others have the same opportunities that she had to maintain long-term recovery.

By sharing her recovery story through a TedX talk, Recovery Month events, conferences and presentations, Sarah is dispelling these common myths about drug use among young people:

  • Myth: Young people cannot get addicted. Due to stigma and a lack of knowledge, many teens think you have to be homeless, living under a bridge orexperienced a multitude of dire consequences in order to become an addict.
     
  • Myth: It's normal to party excessively while you are young, and that there won't be any consequences.
     
  • Myth: Nobody is sober on a college campus.

Sarah shows that young people can have a legitimate problem with drugs and alcohol - and that it is never too early to entry recovery.

Two of the greatest contributing factors to Sarah's recovery are a supportive group of peers and her education. She knows what it's like to be at a university that has one of the nation's oldest collegiate recovery programs and to be at one that doesn't have anything. It was this experience that drove Sarah to change graduate schools and help Ohio State University create its Collegiate Recovery Community and Recovery House.

As a Graduate Administrative Associate in the Student Life Student Wellness Center, Sarah works tirelessly for the students in recovery. The Collegiate Recovery Community currently has 35 students. Sarah and the students speak to different groups on campus about their program and their own recovery stories.

One way Sarah and the Collegiate Recovery Community does this is addressing tailgating before football games, which is a major school tradition at Ohio State. Sarah helped plan the first "recovery tailgate" at Ohio State which allowed the students to participate in the school's traditions and show other students that drinking and football aren't synonymous. Sarah also has helped with develop The Recovery House at Penn Place, which is a 28-bed residence hall for students in recovery.

Lastly, in January 2013, Sarah and a colleague co-founded PTR Associates, a consulting firm dedicated to creating recovery-oriented solutions in order to address disparities in the delivery of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In its first year, PTR Associates has worked with both the federal government and multiple state governments as well as nationally recognized organizations such as Hazelden, the Treatment Research Institute, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

All of Sarah's work at Ohio State and through PTR Associates is crucial to ensuring students and young adults success in their recovery.

By being such a visible and vocal community leader on campus and as a professional, Sarah hopes to change the campus culture of her school to dispel these myths and show other students that recovery doesn't mean the end of a fun and fulfilling college career.

Watch Sarah's TedX talk here: