One of the beautiful things about being in recovery is that it gave me a second chance in life. One of the things I decided to do with that second chance was to go to college. I was apprehensive though. I knew that a lot of partying goes on in that environment, and I was concerned about relapse. However, there were several positive reasons why I wanted to give it a try:
- I wasn’t happy with just having a high school diploma. Currently working as a nursing assistant in a local nursing home, I longed for the chance to become a registered nurse. Going to college would open that door for me.
- While many of my friends went on to college after high school, I went right to work, and I always felt that I was missing out by not getting more education.
- Now that I was sober, I had more energy and more ambition. I remembered how much I enjoyed learning new things, and wanted to experience that again.
- I was struggling to get by on a nursing assistant’s salary, and I wanted more out of life for myself.
Going to College in Recovery
While I knew my decision to gain more education was a positive goal, I was also well aware of the dangers for someone in recovery. I felt I was either going to miss out on all the social interaction that goes on or relapse in order to fit in. I knew I had to have some sort of plan to get me through. Many questions floated around in my mind: Would I be able to handle the stress? Will I be able to put enough effort into maintaining my sobriety? How will I handle the temptation to join in on the partying?
I did some research and spoke to my sponsor, and this is what we came up with:
- Select a school that offers support to students in recovery. Michigan University has a club that organizes sober activities, as do many other schools in the country.
- Have strategies in place for dealing with stress. I sat down and drafted a list that included meditation, working out, and keeping a journal.
- Live off campus, if possible. It is important to have your own private space where you won’t be exposed to all of the partying going on.
- Make it a priority to regularly attend 12-step meetings and have a strong support network in place. This can include family, friends, a minister, or your sponsor.
- Plan ahead as to how you will celebrate your successes while staying sober. If you don’t have any type of rewards for yourself, you will be more tempted to party. I chose getting a massage, going out to dinner with sober friends, and going away somewhere special for a weekend retreat.
You Can Stay Sober In College
So it is possible to stay clean and sober in college, and lots of other people do it. But remember that one of the basic principles of addiction recovery is that we can’t do it alone. My sponsor once told me that when I’m alone with myself I’m with my worst enemy. Going to college is a wonderful achievement and something I will always be proud of. Just remember to have a plan in place, a strong support system, and to reach out to your sponsor for some one-on-one support when you need it. If you or a loved one may need treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, please contact Oceanfront Recovery today to discuss treatment options. One of our professional, experienced, and compassionate intake advisors will speak with you at 877-279-1777 today.