The Game Changer


“F**king stoned out of my head on heroin, and those first couple days were miserable man. I saw god, I swear, just lying there shaking. Torture.” SOU student Kyle, who’s last name we’re redacting, said when reflecting on how his life changed.

He was one of the 21% of college age people that used illicit drugs in 2013. He had to make the choice to either quit using, or relive the experience he described as torture.

Kyle came back to his hometown of Santa Barbara to fight his addiction. In Santa Barbara he met a group of recovering ex-drug addicts that he connected with, but he knew eventually he would have to go back to school here at SOU.

“I had a solid network of people that I had been doing drugs with for years so it was terrifying [to return to SOU] and I got back, and I knew I needed to find some kind of recovery, but what I looked for wasn’t there. It wasn’t what I was used to . . .” he explained.

That’s when Kyle discovered Community of Recovery in Education (CORE), Southern Oregon University’s collegiate recovery program. CORE is a place where students can meet and get help with fighting addictions.

SOU director of counseling and CORE coordinator, Victor Chang said, “When CORE started out it wasn’t hugely publicized, and the students that become aware of it were the students who originally said they needed this and they ended up being more non-traditionally aged students who may have had some years of sobriety.”

Kyle found what he needed when he started going to Wednesday night CORE meetings or “The Game Changer”.

While Tuesday morning CORE meetings are for CORE members, anybody who is curious can attend a Wednesday night meeting. As Kyle puts it the Game Changer welcomes, “anybody who wants to come. You don’t have to be a drug addict, you don’t have to be anything, like if you’re depressed, you can come talk about it. If you’re having trouble eating, or self-harm you can come talk about it.”

CORE’s membership rose and more traditional age students joined CORE after the Game Changer started. The environment of the Game Changer is different than a typical AA or NA meeting.

SOU student Kristena said, “CORE is probably the definition of sober fun. We get together [at] our meetings on Wednesdays nights. We’re always laughing and joking and we have random dance parties before or after the meetings being completely goofy and silly and being completely sober.”

When talking about the Game Changer Kyle says, “there’s something really awesome about having a place where people can come together and talk about things honestly. It felt like real shit in life, like real problems it helps, it helps me, I think it helps everyone in a way to get support. I think it’s one of the more special things to see.”

CORE serves a population of students in recovery. When asked where he would be without CORE Kyle said, “Doing heroin for sure, there’s no doubt in my mind. Victor and CORE are the only things that keep me sober.”

CORE meets in Susanne Homes room 106 Tuesday from 12:30-1:30 and Wednesday Nights 7-8. Contact CORE Coordinator Victor Chang at 541-552-6813 for more information.