The percentage of people involved in substance abuse at college is much higher than the population at large. It is believed that as many as 44% of students binge drink. Many of these people will run into problems because of alcohol or drug abuse. It not only affects their ability to study but also their mental and physical well being. There are many resources available in colleges for those who want to quit substance abuse or are already in recovery. It is also possible to fully enjoy the experience of going to college without any need to abuse alcohol or drugs. In fact sober people can get more out of the experience of attending college.
Those people who escape an addition can rebuild their life in sobriety. It is possible for people to get second chances in life and there are countless examples of people who have completely turned their life around in recovery. One of the most common paths that people take when they become sober is to return to college. They may do this in order to improve their chances of finding fulfilling employment or just because they feel that formal education is something they missed out on. Returning to college can be a wonderful decision that will completely change the life of the individual for the better.
There are dangers associated with returning to college in recovery including:
* There tends to be a heavy drinking and drugging culture at most colleges. This can mean that there will be lots of temptations to drink or take drugs.
* Going back to college can feel like such a great achievement that the individual may feel that they have earned the right to return to substance use.
* There can be a great deal of stress at college because of coursework and exams, and the individual may be tempted to return to alcohol or drugs for solace.
* When people return to college they may need to spend less time in recovery meetings or doing those things that keep them focused on recovery. This reduction in the effort to stay sober could lead to relapse – especially with people who are new to recovery.
* When people get a good mark on a term paper or pass an exam they will want to celebrate. It can be hard for people in early recovery to celebrate without chemicals.
* There can be a great deal of peer pressure at college to drink or use drugs.
Finding sober things to do at college can be crucial if people hope to get the most from the experience. Otherwise the student can begin to feel resentful and use this as a justification to relapse. On every college campus there will be plenty of activities that do not involve alcohol or drugs. When people are involved in substance abuse it can feel like the whole of campus life revolves around getting drunk or high, but this is just their perception. Humans are more likely notice things in their environment that interest them. When the individual becomes sober they can be surprised to find just how much of college life does not involve this type of lifestyle.
Finding sober things to do at college is important because:
* It usually means an opportunity to socialize. There is a tendency for people to make lifelong friends while they are at college.
* College is a great time for experimenting with new activities. Some of these may become lifelong interests.
* There is an abundance of activities available at most colleges. Students will usually get to enjoy these at a lower cost than the general public will pay.
* Just studying all the time at college can lead to a great deal of stress. These activities provide an outlet to let off steam.
* Most people will look back on their college days fondly but only when they make the most out of it.
* Some college activities provide the opportunity to help other people. This type of service always strengthens a person’s recovery.
* Boredom is a relapse trigger that can be used as a justification to relapse. There is no excuse for boredom at college because there is always something going on.
* Loneliness is another relapse trigger. In order for people to make friends at college they will need to get involved in some of the available activities.
There are usually plenty of activities that people can enjoy at college with the need of alcohol or drugs such as:
* Recreational or competitive sport
* Meditation or yoga groups
* Addiction recovery groups
* Clubs devoted to hobbies such as reading or walking
* Spiritual or religious groups
* It is possible to take an active role in student politics
* Join a music club or start up a band
* Learn to play a musical instrument
* Learn another language
* Write articles or books
* Become involved in the college magazine or newspaper
* Enjoy cultural activities such as visiting art galleries
* Become involved in voluntary work
* Take up photography and join a photography club
* Socializing with friends
* Alcohol-free parties
* Adventure clubs
Addiction is a common problem on campus and most colleges will have resources to help people struggling with this problem. There will also usually be groups and societies for those who are already in recovery. Some colleges are lucky enough to have a highly active community of students enjoying sobriety. This will mean that there will be plenty of groups, events, and activities for those who want to live the sober life. A good example of this would be Students for Recovery at the University of Michigan. This group provides advice and organizes fun events for those who want to get the most out of their sober life at college.
It is usually recommended that people in recovery avoid going to wet places. This is because if an event is focused on taking alcohol or drugs there will be a great deal of pressure on those attending to do the same. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say, if you go to the barbershop often enough you will eventually get a haircut. Sometimes there can be good reasons for attending college parties and so long as the individual feels strong enough in their recovery they should be able to manage this. In order to reduce the risk of relapse at one of these events the individual can:
* It is usual a good idea to leave these events early. This is because the longer the party goes on the drunker people will become.
* There will usually be some partygoers who feel it is their duty to get everyone to drink alcohol. It is important to have a short and emphatic reply for such individuals.
* There can also be some individuals who are prepared to spike the drinks of those who are not consuming alcohol – this has sometimes led to disastrous results. It is therefore a good idea to watch out for this and buy a new drink if the current one has been left unattended for any length of time.
* It can be beneficial to practice saying no to the offer of drink or drugs. This type of role playing can make it easier to say no in real life.
* It is a good idea to check beforehand to make sure there will be non-alcoholic drinks available at the party.
* It is not a good idea to drink out of unlabeled bottles or punches. These can often contain alcohol.
* Taking along another sober friend can be highly beneficial at these events. If this individual is also in recovery their sobriety will need to be strong – otherwise both people could relapse.
* It can be helpful to take along some recovery resources. This is now easier to do with devices such as the iPhone – it also means that such material can be enjoyed without the individual drawing attention from others.
* If people have any thoughts of relapse they need to leave the party right away. They should then seek some support from their recovery network.
* It is not a good idea for people in recovery to go to a party because they want to enjoy watching other people getting drunk.