The Life of a Sober College Student

College is about so much more than parties, and plenty of people make it through college without engaging in substance abuse. However, for students who have an addiction or are at risk for developing one, college culture can bring a lot of triggers and challenges. The good news is that you can have a full, vibrant college experience without drugs and alcohol. The even better news is that several colleges have programs in place to help students deal with addiction in healthy ways. -

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Consider a Dry Campus

For those who deal with a substance use disorder, being surrounded by alcohol can become a major trigger. One option to avoid this trigger is to attend a dry campus. These universities have banned all alcohol from their grounds, no matter the ages of the people who attend the school. Though many of these colleges are religious or otherwise private schools, some are state-funded. If you’re interested in attending a dry campus university, start with a simple search online to begin narrowing down your choices.

Stay in a Sober Dorm

Another option is to seek sober housing when you move onto a college campus. These housing options often exist in universities that aren’t dry campuses. Sober dorms are exactly what they sound like: student housing that bans alcohol and other drugs from the premises. These dorms are often filled with students in recovery as well as students whose religious convictions forbid drugs and alcohol. These dorms can provide you with an excellent starting place for finding a supportive community in college, especially if the campus is far away from your usual support network. If a sober dorm isn’t an option, you might note on your housing forms that you’d prefer a sober roommate. Most universities try to match roommates based on temperament, and housing services will likely try to honor this request.

Are you struggling to maintain your sobriety in college? Call 800-492-QUIT for help.

College Recovery Programs

When looking at your list of college choices, see if any of your preferences have a recovery program. A fair amount of colleges now offer support groups, counseling, and other services for students in recovery, and these services often cost no money. Note that these programs are not replacements for addiction treatment. They act as supplements to existing treatment.

One month-long survey noted that 62% of college students had used alcohol.

Develop a Support Network

Support networks are critical to successful recovery.

Try to develop a network of friends at college, especially if your college is far away from home. Have patience during this process, however. It takes a long time to forge lasting, trusting friendships. Like we mentioned earlier, your living situation can provide a starting point for making good friends. As you begin to develop close friendships, look for opportunities to tell the ones you trust about any substance abuse problems you may have. These friends can help support you in your efforts to stay sober. You might also try joining clubs and other organizations. Intramural sports, drama clubs, and all sorts of other activities can help you find a supportive community.

If you don’t quite “click” with any of the clubs or activities on campus, try looking for sober support networks off campus instead. You might search for 12 Step groups or support groups in nearby towns, for example.

Take Care of Yourself

College can put students under a lot of stress, and stress is a major trigger for people with substance use disorders.

Do your best to stay mindful of stress and take care of yourself while at college. For example, avoiding taking on too heavy of a course load. Staying at college for an extra semester is a much better outcome than relapsing because you were overwhelmed. College students tend to glorify being busy, pulling all-nighters, and being tired. Don’t be one of those college students. Having balance is ideal for your physical and mental health, and coffee is absolutely not a substitute for sleep.

To avoid getting into stressful situations, try to practice good time management. If you’ve struggled with time management in the past, a counselor at college can help you. Stick to a regular routine as much as possible. Other tips for managing stress include the items on this list:

  • Develop a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation.
  • Have a hobby that has nothing to do with school.
  • Find time to exercise, even if only for a few minutes a day.
  • Whenever possible, make small changes instead of large ones.

Treatment First

If you struggle with a substance use disorder and haven’t been through treatment yet, it’s a good idea to postpone college until after you’ve been through a good treatment program. While you may find all kinds of support and resources in college, these tools are no substitute for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

If you’d like to start treatment but don’t know

where to start, Rehab Info can help you find the right path. Call 800-492-QUIT for help today.
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