College is the time for an average student to experience the “college life”. This usually means joining a sorority or frat, doing your first (of many) keg stands, living away from your parents and living with roommates. I mean, there’s the whole education aspect of college too, but that’s old news. Students who graduate high school have never lived away from their family or been to a real party before. Or maybe you’ve done both already, I’m not here to judge. But if you took a break between high school and college because of an addiction problem, it can be scary to attend college when you’re sober. Or maybe you dropped out of college because of an addiction problem and you’re ready to return for good. It’s scary nonetheless. And not only because you’re sober now, but because you’re staying sober in college. How do you stay sober in college?
First and foremost: CONGRATULATIONS! Admitting your problem and going through recovery is tough. You’ve probably had really bad days and really good days. That’s life, right!? Since you are now in recovery, I assume you know it’s encouraged to wait a year before any big life changes. Yes, going to college is one of them. When you’re secure in recovery and you’re ready to go to college, here is some advice for you-
About 80% of College Students use Alcohol
I know it’s a scary amount and you might be super intimidated by it, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. If you follow these tips, staying sober in college will be easier.
- Find a dry college or a dry dorm. By attending a school that’s dry, you won’t have to worry about alcohol being on campus. If your school isn’t dry, you can see if your campus has a dry dorm. Dry dorm rooms are nice because you’re surrounded by others who aren’t drinking in the dorm.
- Join clubs. Even if you attend a small college, there are usually tons of clubs you can join. There’s usually a club for everything; science, politics, campus life, art, sports, math and more. By joining clubs, you’re making friends and doing something you enjoy. And in most cases, if your club isn’t offered, you can start a club!
- Make friends with other sober/non-drinking students. I’m sure not everyone is in the drinking scene. Meet friends who are in the game room or working out. In most cases, it’s easy to meet friends and ask to hang out. You can go off campus, go to the mall or hit up a sporting event.
- Be involved. There are usually campus events every weekend and sporting events almost every day. Attend the events and meet others so you’re keeping yourself busy in college. I remember when I was in college, we had musicians and comedians almost every week. They are so much fun and great (free) entertainment!
- Don’t announce it to everyone. No one really cares if you’re going to drink or not. It might actually be annoying to some people. Keep it to yourself and maybe some close friends, and always have a non-alcoholic drink with you if you go to parties. College parties can send out major triggers, so only go to parties if you feel up for it. People might get you a drink or ask you what you’re drinking, but it’s okay to be honest with them. Politely decline if they ask you for a drink. “I don’t drink.” or “I’m in recovery” are both acceptable responses. If they are respectable friends, they will understand.
If you’re going to college, make sure you’re really ready for it! Don’t feel like going to college because you need a change in your life. Your change in life is recovery and it should be your priority. After a year of focusing on yourself, you can begin to make decisions about your future. After all, the next time you’re going to college, you’re staying sober in college. Make it count!