Your First Day Back to College After Getting Sober
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Surviving Your First Day Back to College After Getting Sober

Those who develop an addiction to alcohol or drugs inevitably sacrifice many aspects of their lives. For adult addicts with children, addiction affects the lives and well-being of every member of a family. Those who are younger sacrifice relationships, job opportunities, and financial security in the name of substance abuse. However, rates of addiction among teens and the college-aged are growing at an alarming rate with many at that age requiring treatment in order to overcome chemical dependencies. The implications of this is that there are many college-aged individuals who have gone through active addiction and the process of recovery and must continue their lives while doing their best to sustain their newfound sobriety. For those who have received treatment for addiction and are faced with the prospect of returning to college to finish their degrees, the prospect of sustaining sobriety in spite of the pervasive drinking and partying of campus life can be daunting. Here’s how you can return to college after getting sober.

Returning to College While in Recovery

young man at college

People often describe their college years as the best time of their lives. It’s the period during which teens flourish into young adults while discovering who they are, what they want to do with their lives and create a more concrete plan for the future. Of course, college is more than just a time of self-discovery; this also represents a time during which individuals broaden their minds, considering alternate points of view and developing a more in-depth knowledge of their intended fields of study. However, an important part of one’s college years is also the social experience. Many college students make friends with whom they will remain close for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, the quintessential college experience can often include a fair amount of partying. While this is to be expected as individuals stretch their proverbial wings, there are some that inevitably take this aspect of campus life too far, pushing the limits of experimentation to an place of high risk and danger.

Sources have found that individuals are beginning to abuse substances at younger and younger ages, even during one’s early teens. Whether one’s college years represent an individual’s initial experimentation with recreational substance abuse or is a graduation of earlier experimentation, this has led to greater numbers of college students in need of treatment or having already suffered from addiction and completed a treatment program. For those individuals who return to college after regaining their sobriety, the idea of rejoining the community in which one was involved during active addiction can be a frightening prospect. However, a college student doesn’t perform at his or her best when suffering from chemical dependency with many who have recovered wanting to return to school to finish their degrees and have better job prospects. Moreover, earning a college degree is a rewarding experience for anyone and perhaps even more so for the college student who lost his or her way, but has completed treatment and is ready to finish up school.

Potential Threats to Recovery in College

peer preasure at college party

Before returning to college as a newly recovered addict, it’s important to be aware of the potential threats that college life could pose to one’s recovery. Although going to college and earning a degree can only ever be a positive decision, those who have gotten carried away by the social and partying components of the college experience should prepare for one’s return to campus and the potential risks that may ensue. Studies have shown that alcohol and binge-drinking behaviors are the most prevalent form of substance abuse found on college campuses with more than 44 percent of college students meeting the criteria for patterns of alcohol consumption that could be described as binging. As such, a college student who has recently recovered from addiction needs to be aware of the social events that are unsafe—offering lots of alcohol and drinkers—versus those that wouldn’t threaten one’s recovery.

However, identifying potential threats to one’s recovery is more than just avoiding bars and frat parties. College can be stressful; the heavy course load, long hours of homework and studying, big projects that comprise half of a semester’s grade, meeting assignment criteria, and pop quizzes are just some of the stressful stimuli in the lives of college students. As a result of this stress, it’s been found that many college students use substance abuse as a means of treating stress. For those returning to college after recovery, it’s important to known a variety of healthy, alternative ways to cope with stress so that one isn’t tempted to revert to abusing alcohol and drugs in order to deal with stress. Additionally, college students often feel burnt out, especially with a heavy class schedule and hitting the books until the wee hours of the morning. It’s become very common for college students to abuse stimulant drugs like cocaine and Adderall in order to maintain the energy that they need in order to get their homework done. In fact, studies show that the rate of Adderall abuse on college campuses has risen significantly in recent years. College students who have regained their sobriety can use coffee to squeeze a couple extra hours out of their evenings, but would also benefit from becoming more organized and honing their time management skills in order to ensure that all their course work gets finished.

How to Enjoy & Thrive in College While Sober

Attending college in recovery might sound impossible with the reputation that campuses have for being flooded with alcohol, but individuals can be just as successful and enjoy the college experience just as much while staying sober. Those who have recovered from addiction will find that there are now a number of recovery services as well as support and social groups for those in recovery on many college campuses, which are part of a nationwide initiative to address substance abuse and addiction among college students. This can be a great resource for sober individuals who still want to enjoy the social aspects of college life. Moreover, rates of substance abuse may be elevated on college campuses, but there are still many individuals who attend college without binge drinking and partying, which means that there are many individuals with whom the newly recovered can network and socialize. An important part of recovery is to maintain a network of individuals who support and encourage one’s recovery, which is definitely possible with some preparation and by utilizing a number of on-campus resources.

Allow Yourself to Live Again—Contact the Palm Beach Institute Now

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and would like to learn more about rehabilitation, the Palm Beach Institute can help. We have a team of experienced, caring recovery specialists available who can help individuals find the treatments that will help them regain their health and sobriety. A better, more fulfilling life is just one phone call away.

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