Alumnus’ documentary on collegiate recovery programs, ‘Safety Net,’ to premiere at FSU

The Florida State University Division of Student Affairs invites the campus and community to the screening of two documentaries that expose the dangers of substance use disorder and fentanyl as well as discuss the impact of collegiate recovery programs.

“Safety Net: Helping Students in Recovery Thrive” will premiere at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at the FSU Askew Student Life Center, followed by a 7 p.m. reception and a special viewing of “One Second at a Time: Battling the Monster of Addiction.”

FSU alumnus Michael Ortoll (’84), the father of a young woman who fought and ultimately lost a 10-year battle with mental illness and substance use disorder via fentanyl overdose, is the executive producer of both films.

“One Second at a Time” depicts Christine Ortoll’s struggle told from her own journals and by those who supported her, including family, close friends, addiction treatment providers, mental health clinicians, behavioral therapists and psychiatrists. Her father also shares lessons he learned in seeking help for Christine at over 20 recovery facilities. He finds purpose in establishing a charity in his daughter’s name and exposing the dangers of mental illness, substance use disorder and the lethality of fentanyl via the country’s top experts in this film.

“Safety Net” is a moving and inspiring mini-documentary that emphasizes the importance of college recovery programs that help students suffering from substance use disorder achieve their academic and personal goals. The documentary highlights the success of FSU’s innovative collegiate recovery program, LIFT, which stands for Living Intentionally, Finding Togetherness.

The FSU LIFT Program supports students interested in recovery from addiction and substance misuse and helps them thrive during their college experience. Students learn beneficial coping skills in an accountable recovery community where they can develop friendships with like-minded peers.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health reporting that an increasing number of young adults are struggling with substance use disorder. The survey reported an estimated 8.6 million people aged 18 to 25 met the criteria for having a substance use disorder in 2021. FSU Student Affairs believes students in recovery can pursue a college degree and created the LIFT program to support them and help them maintain their sobriety.

LIFT is not a treatment program but a place for students who are recovering or who have been in treatment and have been successful at sustaining or limiting their use of substances. FSU’s LIFT program has a dedicated space that includes programming, community and offices.

The need for programs like LIFT is emphasized in the “Safety Net” documentary. Substance use disorder rates on college campuses can reach 24% in the United States, according to the Association of Recovery for Higher Education (ARHE). Despite these alarming rates, ARHE reports that less than 5% of higher education institutions in the U.S. have a recovery program in place. Mike Ortoll, who has been instrumental in helping FSU create the LIFT Program, noted that it is critical to have programs like these to keep students connected with like-minded peers in a secure atmosphere.

LIFT is an outstanding illustration of the advantages of college recovery programs, having engaged over 1,000 students in just one year. Students that participate in LIFT have higher graduation rates, higher GPAs, are less likely to relapse and have a greater likelihood of continuing to thrive in society.

“I am incredibly grateful to Mike Ortoll and the Christine Ortoll Charity for framing the difficult issue of substance use disorder in ‘Safety Net’ through a lens of hope and the student-centered work of collegiate recovery programs,” said Angela Lauer Chong, associate vice president for Student Affairs. “The film shines a light on this very real health issue and the opportunity we have in higher education to make a difference in the lives of our students through these programs. A student does not have to choose between their recovery and a vibrant and successful collegiate experience.”

RSVP for the premiere via eventbrite. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Learn more about the FSU LIFT Program at Learn more about the Christine Ortoll Charity at