What Makes Us GFR

The mission of Gauchos for Recovery is to provide a safe, supportive environment for students in all types and stages of recovery so that they can:

  • Continue to grow as people in recovery
  • Have a fulfilling college experience
  • Successfully pursue academic, professional, and personal goals

Our mission is supported by 5 main program elements

  1. A community of supportive peers. Abstinence-specific social support is one of the essential ingredients to success as a college student in recovery. Our GFR community is made up of students from all walks of life, who are connected by the journey of recovery. Our recovery peer interns are trained to provide one-on-one mentoring support to those students who may be struggling or who are just starting out on their recovery path.
  2. Recovery-oriented meetings and events. Community support meetings of many types are available throughout the week. We also hold regular "unity nights," outings, off-campus retreats, educational events, and self-care opportunities.
  3. Opportunities for leadership and service. The day-to-day activities of our program are facilitated by our Recovery Peer Interns, who are students in recovery themselves holding paid positions with the Alcohol & Drug Program. Leadership positions are also available within the GFR student org.
  4. A Recovery-friendly space.  The Recovery Lounge at Embarcadero Hall is a safe space for students to relax, study, play, meet with sponsors/mentors, or just be together. GFR leaders have 24 hour access to the lounge. Snacks and coffee are always available!
  5. Professional Counseling. Professional, confidential counseling is available at no cost to UCSB students through the Alcohol & Drug Program. All of our ADP counselors are licensed mental health clinicians who specialize in alcohol and drugs.

Our "Macro Goal" - Culture Change through Advocacy and Activism.

Our "macro goal" at GFR is to continue to change the culture of our campus community to be one that is recovery-informed and recovery-friendly. We seek to reduce stigma and remove barriers to seeking help, and also to represent recovery not as a consequence, but as a desirable way of life. We do this through presentations, class visits, panels, awareness events, and by just being visible as people thriving in recovery.

Student Stories

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Student Stories

"My name is Nicki and I was introduced to Gauchos for Recovery from another member of the program while attending an outside meeting. Trying to get sober at 21 years old and on the verge of dropping out of school, I would've never thought that there was a community of students in IV facing the same struggles as I was. GFR has allowed me to enjoy and focus on my last year of college without the use of alcohol and drugs. From the weekly recovery meetings to the various community events, GFR has become a major part of my recovery and has allowed me to feel comfortable in Isla Vista's usual hectic environment. Through being a part of this group, I have made lifelong friendships and for that I will forever be grateful."

"My name is Noah and I've been part of GFR for the past six months. Though it was not my first meeting nor my first glimpse into sobriety, I felt immediately comforted the minute I stepped into the room. Being with other students who are going through similar struggles and building a community of solidarity and support is an extremely uplifting experience and that's what GFR has given me. In addition to meeting and getting to know other sober members of the community, I have learned infinitely more about myself than I thought was possible and I am now so much more at peace with myself and the world around me than I was when I was using and drinking."

"My name is Noah S, I've been a member of Gauchos for Recovery since 2016. I was introduced to the group through another member of GFR and it's become an integral part of my recovery. I even hold an officer position now. GFR has provided me with a way to change my college experience and have a solid network of friends. I didn't think it would be possible to live a life without drugs and alcohol, especially while at university. When I was introduced to GFR it gave me back the hope that I had lost. I owe so much to this group of gauchos and I'm eternally grateful!"

"My name is Darby and I have been a part of Gauchos for Recovery for the past year. I was introduced to GFR through the weekly recovery meeting, which I found on the meeting list online. This was the first recovery meeting that I had ever been to and it is where I met many of the people who are my best friends in recovery today. I've now been involved in many sober activities and events through GFR and have become one of the student officers of the organization. This program and its weekly meetings have specifically contributed so much to my recovery. I am now able to truly experience my life and education at UCSB without the use of alcohol or any other substances. I am now connected with a fellowship of like-minded students who have offered me love, friendship, hope, and a way to live a better life today. I feel very blessed to have this program at UCSB and to have the opportunity to be a part of it."

“My name is Cooper, and I’ve been involved with Gauchos For Recovery since 2014. I was introduced to the organization through the weekly recovery meeting, and have spent the last year working as a Peer Recovery Intern. Gauchos For Recovery has played an instrumental part in my experience at UCSB, both inside and outside my academic life. Concerned about my substance use, and whether someone in college could get sober, I was relieved to meet people my age overcoming the exact same obstacles. Now, more than two years later, my life has done a complete 180, and I wouldn’t trade what I have today for anything.”

"Being an Intern at GFR has been one of the best parts of my college experience. I came into UCSB already in recovery and was looking for a new group of others in recovery to be a part of. Once i heard about GFR I applied to be an intern and since then have done everything I can to grow our fellowship. From when i started to now, we have grown tremendously. We now get over 25 people a week at our recovery meeting and it's amazing. I think that GFR will continue to be a successful recovery program for years to come, and I am honored to have been a part of it for these last 3 years."

"GFR meant to me an acceptance of who I am - not just by the people, but by an institution and organization. As much as I felt like I didn’t belong in a culture like Isla Vista my first few months there, I found a sense of belonging within GFR. GFR is a social movement that I am passionate about and not a lot of people say they get to work on their passion everyday for two years.. There was personal development through the process of seeking out acceptance and advocating for a decrease in stigma to which I found acceptance within myself and more importantly a voice that I was able to use to influence others. The changes and progress we made in such a short amount of time gave me hope that change is possible even when all odds are against you. Most of all, I enjoyed living my day to day life for two years being of service to other students in recovery!"

"My name is Nina and I am a UCSB ’15 alum and past Recovery Peer Intern! I was first introduced to Gauchos for Recovery (GFR) in support of a friend who was involved in the organization on campus. Soon after, I became an intern. As an ally for those in or seeking recovery, GFR became a supportive outlet for me and helped me seek my own recovery as one who has been affected by family members who have struggled with substance abuse. I learned so much about myself by being part of this community and being of service to those around me. During my time as an Intern, our fellowship more than doubled, and still continues to grow! The students in GFR today who were once new to our recovery meetings are now active leaders in the group, on campus, and in the community! It is so humbling to see these students grow with Gauchos for Recovery. I could not be any more proud! I did not know the effect this program and all the students involved would have on my life! It has fueled my soul in ways I could not imagine. My time with GFR guided me to a career in higher education where soon I will be pursuing my Masters in Psychology. I feel so blessed to have been involved with this program as well as meet so many wonderful people along the way."

"Before going to UCSB I was in recovery for about 1 year. I was very nervous about finding a recovery group to keep me stable in a new environment and I didn't know that Gauchos for Recovery existed. While at an orientation event, I saw GFR tabling and upon inquiring about the program I was immediately filled with relief. I knew after meeting the GFR members that I would have a built-in membership to a group that would help me feel welcome and safe in a new environment. I got connected with a recovery peer intern who inspired me to come to the meetings and also volunteer during my first year at UCSB. After my first year, I became a recovery peer intern to help new students feel that same relief I did during my first days at UCSB. I can honestly say that GFR was the number one contributor to my happiness at UCSB and I made tons of friends! Thank you GFR!"

"When I got clean and sober between my freshman and sophomore year at UCSB, I had no idea what it really meant to be in recovery. I started my sophomore year with just about 30 days sober and I was scared to death to go back to the environment that brought me down so fast. Although I was part of a 12-step fellowship, I had no awareness of any kind of support group or program available to students on campus or in Isla Vista, so I found myself very uncomfortable at school when I returned for my sophomore year. When I heard about positions available for the first ever GFR interns for 2011-2012, I knew that this would be something for me. Being a GFR intern from 2011-2013 really gave me a chance to develop and implement a program and provide a safe space for other students at UCSB, either those already in recovery or those still struggling. I am so proud of what GFR has become and I am very excited to see what happens in the future! Thank you GFR and the UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program for giving me a chance to participate in something so important for students at UCSB: a safe place to make friends and have fun without using alcohol or other substances. With almost 7 years sober now, I look back on my experience as a GFR intern and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to carry the message and support others at school. If I hadn’t been a GFR intern at such a fragile stage of my recovery, who knows if I would have been able to stay sober."