Recovery and Substance-Free Initiatives

Brown University is committed to the maintenance of a campus environment that supports all students in achieving their academic goals.

The Donovan Program for Recovery and Substance-Free Student Initiatives endeavors to support students who are in recovery or who are substance-free for any reason through anti-stigma advocacy, inclusive programming, and holistic support structures.


In 1977, Brown President Howard Swearer was at the forefront of a revolution in higher education when he supported Bruce E. Donovan ‘59, Professor of Classics, in founding the Dean for Chemical Dependency role in the Dean of the College Office (later endowed in 2004).  Dean Donovan had the foresight to recognize that students who struggled with substance use on campus and those in recovery were a campus demographic that needed a specific set of supports. To that end, the University now dedicates resources to support students in recovery from substance use disorders, students who would like to change their relationship to substances, and students who are negatively affected by their own or others' substance use. In 2017, programming and initiatives that addressed broader access to substance-free spaces on campus for students both in recovery and who identify as substance-free for any reason became a part of the Donovan Program.

For more information on services and programming, please click the topics on the left hand side of the screen. To have a private chat about your own substance use, how you are affected by another’s substance use, or issues pertaining to your substance-free status, please contact the Dean for Recovery and Substance-Free Student Initiatives, Lindsay Garcia, who is a person in long-term recovery and identifies as substance-free.

Brown University is an institutional member of the Association for Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE). Dean Garcia currently serves as the Northeast Representative on the Advisory Board of ARHE.

Sign up for our listserv to stay up-to-date on recovery and substance-free-related events and programs on campus and in the Providence community.

"My first day at Brown I walked through the Van Wickle gates with terror and 6-months of sobriety under my belt. I knew if I relapsed again that might be it. Fortunately, when I graduated I celebrated 4 years of recovery, an achievement only made possible by the amazing recovery programs at Brown University. ESOB and the Donovan program give students like me a chance to engage with our education in an environment of support and care. Students who suffer from substance use disorders or substance-related trauma no longer have to fear a college campus, places like Donovan make sure you are safe as you forge your future at an institution like Brown." ~A.J.D. ‘20

"Being early in recovery can feel extremely isolating in its own right, but being young and in recovery on a college campus can feel even more so. I often felt alone and separate from the majority of my peers who didn’t share my experience. I am so grateful for Brown’s recovery programming where I was able to connect with other students in recovery and get support from others in the Brown community who did share my experiences, and who supported me unconditionally in my recovery." ~A.M.M. ‘17