Going to college, either for the first time or after becoming sober can be an anxiety provoking experience. It’s important to prepare for any potential triggers you may encounter and develop a relapse prevention plan to address these triggers. Some common relapse risk factors associated with going away to college include stress from classes and homework, lack of a sober support network, and being in an environment where drugs and alcohol are prevalent.
Developing Coping Skills
Before going away to college, make sure that your coping skills are strong and effective. It’s best to practice coping skills in a safe environment to make sure they work before implementing them in a more stressful situation. One coping skill that can be helpful in managing stress associated with classes and homework include using a planner or calendar to stay organized. Making time for stress relieving activities like yoga or the gym is important as well. Also, it is helpful to introduce yourself to your professors in the beginning of the school year and continue to keep open lines of communication throughout the semester. Having solid relationships with your Professors means they can be used as an academic support system in the future.
Find a Sober Support System
Leaving your hometown sober support system is daunting. Especially when you may not have any friends at college and will need to form a new community. Many college campuses have twelve step meetings either on campus or nearby. It’s best to start making meetings as soon as possible to ease your transition to your new environment. Some colleges have collegiate recovery communities, programs that are designed to support students in recovery. Collegiate recovery communities provide sober students with the opportunity to meet and socialize with one another. Depending on the school, students go to twelve step meetings together, have potluck dinners, attend sober tailgates, and even go on sober spring breaks. Collegiate recovery communities can also provide students in recovery with sober housing.
Abstaining from Risky Situations
Typical college housing includes dorms, apartments, and fraternity/sorority houses. In all of these environments, drugs and alcohol can be present and pose a huge risk for relapse. Sober housing allows students in recovery to live with other students their age in an environment that is conducive to recovery. By making new friends who support your sobriety and housing together in the future you can find a new community and grow together.
Making the decision to go, or go back, to college can be an exciting and rewarding choice. It’s important to remember to prioritize recovery, because without sustained sobriety graduating will not be possible. Managing your stress levels, forming a sober support network, and staying away from drugs and alcohol can help ensure that you stay on track for a successful and sober college career!