Recalling his own struggle, Britt Massing and his family make a gift to destigmatize addiction at UCF and support students in recovery.

Britt Massing ’93 had been drinking alcoholically since starting college, and his wife had had enough. One morning in the summer of 2013, she gave him a simple choice: get help or move out. His first thought was, Now I can get my own place and drink as much as I want and nobody will say anything about it. Right on the heels of that thought came another: I’m going to die, alone, and I won’t get to raise my boys. Days later, he was in treatment.

He started his recovery with plenty of advantages: a comfortable income to afford good treatment; a loving wife and two young sons he adored to help him remember why he was there; and a spacious home to avoid the people and situations that could lead to relapse. But it was still hard.

Just imagine, he says now, what it must be like to be in recovery from addiction as a college student — possibly without family nearby, likely without much in the way of financial resources, almost certainly without a place of your own to avoid negative influences. And also, in many cases, judged and looked down on by peers who either don’t know or don’t believe that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.

That’s what inspired the Massings to make a gift this year creating an endowment to support the work of the Collegiate Recovery Community at UCF, a program that provides a nonjudgmental, supportive environment for those students. The CRC, run by Thomas Hall, a recognized authority on such programs, strives not just to support students in recovery but also to destigmatize the disease of addiction and those who suffer from it. The Massings’ gift is the first philanthropic commitment to the CRC and will fund book scholarships for students in recovery and help CRC students achieve their personal and academic potential.

The struggles faced by students in recovery have also inspired Massing — now president of a successful staffing company with offices in Central Florida, South Florida, and Virginia — to direct action, sharing his story with students. “The silence is killing people,” he says. “The National Institutes of Health says 1 in 8 people are affected by addiction. But nobody wants to talk about it. And I will.”

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