College is a thrilling experience. Meeting new people, finding subjects you’re passionate about and maybe living independently for the first time are all exciting opportunities. While going to college comes with its fair share of good times, there’s also a host of temptations that come with the new territory.
Maintaining sobriety in college is not an easy feat. Even if you start drinking or using drugs only on a casual, social basis, it can quickly develop into an addiction. Moreover, if you’re already struggling with a substance use habit or have overcome it in the past, it can feel like there are triggers around every corner.
There’s no denying that staying away from substances is a tricky task in college, it can definitely be done. If you’re in college or heading off to one soon, keep these tips and tricks in your back pocket for when the going gets tough.
Prepare for stress
Attending college is stressful— that’s the nature of the beast. Your classes will be more rigorous than they were before, and without your parents moderating your activities, the lure of social events and extracurriculars can leave you with less time to do a whole lot more.
Anticipating that college is going to be a stressful experience can help you prepare. Setting good habits now can help. Learn how to structure a schedule so you have time to socialize, relax and study. Then, build the self-discipline you need to get everything done.
Commit to priorities
In order to be successful in college, you’ll have to recognize that you need to focus on what matters most. Sobriety in college demands that you give your full commitment to it. Only pursuing sobriety half-heartedly will usher in temptations and later, regrets.
Save yourself the sorrow and decide to steer clear of drugs and alcohol before you set foot on campus.
Develop coping skills
Even after you decide to commit to sobriety, you’ll still need to put in a load of work in order to stay on the path. Coping skills can make the difference in those tricky moments when, even after you’ve made a promise to yourself to stay clean, drugs and alcohol still find their way into the picture.
Coping skills include anything from breathing techniques to hitting the gym. Whatever can help you manage urges to use can fit into this category. Keep in mind that you’ll have to practice these coping mechanisms before the urge strikes so using them will come naturally in the moment.
It will also be helpful to have coping strategies that work in a variety of scenarios. For example, yoga is a great coping skill, but in the middle of a tough exam it’s not the most appropriate way to calm down. Have a few skills that work in these settings where you don’t need much time or equipment, like mindfulness meditations.
Engage with academic supports
Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, getting to know your professors, your academic advisor and others in the college setting can be a huge boost to your overall success in college. After all, when you’re feeling strained about academics, triggers can easily creep in.
Find ways to build up support around you so that you don’t reach the point where you’re turning to substances to cope with the rigor of college courses. Start the year strong and check in during your professors’ office hours during the first week.
Find a sober support system
It can be easy to feel like there’s no a single person who doesn’t drink on a big campus. However, there are plenty of people who are seeking a sober friend group, too. Start your college journey off strong by getting connected to like-minded peers.
Many college campuses have 12 step meetings. These meetings can make your transition easier and introduce you to sober friends. You can also join extracurriculars and intramural sports that prioritize having fun in ways that don’t involve drinking or drugs.
Some colleges have collegiate recovery communities, programs that are designed to support students in recovery. Depending on the school, students have potluck dinners, attend sober tailgates, and even go on sober spring breaks. Collegiate recovery communities can also provide students with sober housing.
Avoid risky situations
The sheer number of opportunities for relapse at a college campus can be overwhelming. While triggers to drug and alcohol use may never be completely avoidable on a campus, the number you encounter on a daily basis can be vastly diminished.
Avoiding large parties or parties where you don’t know the majority of people attending can keep exposure to substances low. Setting a reasonable curfew for yourself can also aid you in maintaining sobriety in college. Try steering clear of Greek life, attending events without alcohol and finding friends who have the same goals in mind.
Sober for life
College is both exciting and rewarding. Don’t let drugs and alcohol get in the way of life-long success as you embark on your college experience. Get the help you need with Rehab After Work. With unique programming the fit your needs and your schedule, you’ll be set up for success wherever life takes you next.