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Sunday, December 05, 2021

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Recovery group hosts weeklong "Oksoberfest" events

<p>Boatwright tower in October.</p>

Boatwright tower in October.

The University of Richmond Spiders Support Recovery group is hosting “Oksoberfest” over the week of Oct. 25 to support students in learning about a “recovery curious” lifestyle.

Oksoberfest is a collaboration between SSR, UR Health Promotion and the Peer Health Educators program, UR Health Educator Marieka Turner said. 

The week will feature events such as yoga, tea sipping and painting and a nature walk, Turner said. 

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Photo courtesy of @urwell_spiders

“Students can turn to those resources as opposed to using substances for stress relief and emotional support,” Turner said. 

“Sober curious” or “recovery curious” are relatively new concepts which have become more well-known during the COVID-19 pandemic, UR Recovery Support Specialist Sarah Wood said. 

The many challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic led recovery curiosity to become more popular, she said. 

“We've all been traumatized by COVID and the impact that's had on our individual lives and just losing the ability to choose how we handle our day to day life,” Wood said. 

Wood leads the Spiders Support Recovery program, which provides resources for students dealing with substance abuse issues and aims to destigmatize recovery on campus. 

Recovery curious is a broad, accessible term that focuses on a more intentionally healthy lifestyle, Wood said.

Sober curious culture encourages a sober lifestyle, but welcomes individuals who are not willing, ready or planning to give up alcohol completely, according to the Verywell Mind website

“The recovery movement has grown to include individuals who have been impacted by mental illness or trauma, and those who are allies for individuals who have encountered brain-based challenges,” she said.

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People who are recovery curious do not necessarily have to be recovering from something, Wood said. SSR has made an effort to rebrand the term “recovery” to match the new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration definition, she said. 

“Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential,” according to the SAMHSA website

Wood said that this rebrand fit the needs of more UR students. 

“What's happening is I really have students who are coming to try to make changes that are more harm reduction, where they're just testing and trying to see ‘Well, what if I just tried to be more intentional?’” she said. 

Wood hopes to help students recover the power to make healthy choices, she said. 

“It's about recovering myself, recovering my relationships, recovering my community, recovering my individuality, recovering my confidence,” she said. “It's not necessarily about a big rehab renovation as much as on a daily basis.”

UR’s COVID-19 restrictions prevented Oksoberfest from occurring last year. The event last took place in 2019 in the form of a one-day tabling event, UR junior and Peer Health Educator Shruti Sathish said. This year, it is a week-long series of events with the theme of “Sober Curiosity.” 

Oksoberfest is also collaborating with SpiderNights, which offers inclusive evening events on Saturdays that provide an alternative to parties, on Oct. 30, Sathish said. 

“I think having these types of options for ways to have fun with other people, but not necessarily having to engage in substance use during it is super important,” she said. 

Events during the week are open to all UR students.

“This is an event that is both for folks who are curious about recovery, or are already in recovery, but also for just any students,” Turner said. 

Oksoberfest and SSR have three rules for participation: do not come under the influence of substances, do not glorify substance use and respect people’s privacy and anonymity, Wood said. 

Wood plans to continue recovery curious programming beyond Oksoberfest through possible weekly recovery-minded yoga and a recovery crafting and meditation space she hopes to implement in November. 

Resources to get involved with SSR will be provided during Oksoberfest. More information can be found on the SSR website or in the SSR office, which is located in Sarah Brunet Hall Suite 138. 

Contact features writer Anna Ridilla at anna.ridilla@richmond.edu.

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