Tech alumni seeks to start recovery program

A Tech graduate and recovering addict wants to start an organization on campus to help students struggling with addiction stay sober and do well in school. 

Nathan Payne graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in political science. He is currently a lifeline coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and said if it hadn't been for the support of his professors, he might not have graduated.

More than 115 people die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"The opposite of addiction is community and connection," Payne said. "I think on college campuses there's a bigger problem than we would like to think there is."

Tyler Bowman, a recovering addict, shared his personal struggles with addiction in college and how he wished the college he attended had services like the proposed organization.

"We're fighting a stigma," Bowman said. "Breaking the stigma, letting it go public and just saying like look, 'This is just part of life. We all have our vices, this is a vice you have to confront.' At the end of the day, we're just trying to stop someone from going the wrong direction."

Trisha Benitez of Addiction Campuses and Greek University emphasized the importance of publicizing the organization. She suggested advertising on campus, whether it be by sponsoring special events or building a relationship with other organizations. 

"I see this as preventative as well as recovery support and treatment," Payne said.

For more information of if you're interested in helping start this organization, please contact Nathan Payne: (865) 266-9764, or