Kennesaw State addiction recovery center opens new facility

KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 22, 2017

New space to increase visibility, outreach on Kennesaw Campus

Kennesaw State University’s nationally recognized addiction recovery center has opened a newer, more expansive facility in the heart of one of the University’s student housing complexes.

The Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery (CYAAR), now in its 10th year of service, marked the milestone with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house Friday at its new 3,830-square-foot facility at University Village on the Kennesaw Campus. President Sam Olens joined CYAAR Executive Director Teresa Johnston, Program Coordinator Michael Polacek and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Bob Mattox in commemorating the opening.


“Expanding into this new facility reaffirms the University’s and the CYAAR’s commitment to reducing the effects of addiction on our students, faculty and staff, and on the surrounding community,” Olens said. “This move will allow the CYAAR, respected nationally for its efforts, to continue its mission of education and outreach.”

One of the first collegiate programs of its kind, the CYAAR remains at the forefront of addiction and recovery science research, providing a comprehensive approach for students, faculty and staff who wish to explore the impact of addiction, alcohol and drug use on their lives and the lives of others around them.

The center, which opened in 2007 with a single staff member, previously occupied two offices and a meeting room on the second floor of Willingham Hall. It has since grown to include six full-time and six part-time staff members who support an average of 75 students per year, increasing the need for additional space. The CYAAR also maintains an office on the Marietta Campus in the Joe Mack Wilson Student Center.

Students attending seminars, recovery support meetings and group counseling sessions at the Willingham Hall location were often discouraged by packed rooms, Johnston said.

“Some of the challenges we faced were growing the community with very limited space, so we’re very excited that we now have a large enough space to bring our community, our staff, our clinicians and our students back together,” Johnston said.

The new University Village location, which opened unofficially during the summer, features a classroom that can be reconfigured according to class size, a community center, and a spacious lounge where students study and gather to talk over coffee. It also contains an area with computers for research, administrative offices and rooms for one-on-one counseling.

“There’s a lot of curiosity about what we are and who we are as students walk by our new facility,” Johnston said. “We hope that curiosity will continue to grow and that students who may be seeking help will know where we’re located.”

In addition to counseling and advising, the CYAAR remains focused on education, which Johnston said it accomplishes by encouraging undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research on addiction recovery and accommodating them in the new facility.

Both addiction recovery research and services are timely and critical to Kennesaw State. According to the Substance Abuse Research Alliance, prescription opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. have increased by 200 percent since 2000, and more than half of the students seeking help through the CYAAR are recovering from opioid addiction. There are 29 counties in Georgia where drug overdose rates outpace the U.S. average.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 32 percent of college students admitted to binge drinking within a two-week period prior to a 2016 survey, more than that of their non-college peers. College students were also found to have higher rates of amphetamine misuse than their non-college peers.

“There’s a growing need in our community to understand what addiction is, what recovery support structures are and how we, as a community, can enhance that experience here at Kennesaw State,” Johnston said.

– Travis Highfield

Photo by Lauren Kress

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit