Many people refer to college as the best years of their life. The time period has the potential to pave the way for your future success as you devote yourself to learning, personal growth and social networking. That said, college has also often become synonymous with partying, drinking and drug use, which can lead to deeply damaging addictions. Here we’ll explore the reality of addiction and sobriety, how to avoid drinking in college and what kind of help you can access.
Why Sobriety in College Is Important
College time can be truly formative and impacting years, serving as a key time to socialize, build a rich sense of self-identity, set goals for the future and most importantly, earn an education. It’s easy to forget that this access to higher education is a privilege not many receive. How you spend these years will serve as a critical building block for your future.
Staying sober in college will allow you to make the most of this opportunity and begin your adult years establishing habits, discipline and self-respect that will serve you as you enter the world on your own.
Challenges to Staying Sober in College
In college, you’ll often find a mindset that says drinking is no big deal. The ubiquitous message is that everyone is doing it. You may feel judgment from peers who don’t understand your decision to stay sober. Deciding to abstain from alcohol or drugs can be an isolating experience, and it may feel like you’re missing out on important experiences as a result. These social pressures, whether they’re direct or subconscious, can be a difficult obstacle for even the most stalwart sobriety believer.
These challenges are very real. Data reveals that approximately 20% of college students are classified as having an alcohol use disorder. About a quarter of college students report facing academic consequences — from missing class to doing poorly on classwork — as a result of drinking. As far as drug use goes, studies indicate that 40% of college students try a drug other than marijuana by the time they graduate. With usage this high, it’s no wonder that students attempting to stay sober will face temptations and triggers all around them.
Another challenge to staying sober may stem from the difficulty of realizing you have a serious problem. The nature of college can often desensitize students to how heavy their addiction has gotten. It’s easier to hide your dependence, even from yourself, in a culture where social drinking and drug use is prevalent.
How to Find Help While Recovering From Addiction
As you walk through the process of addiction recovery in college, it’s important to have a game plan in place and surround yourself with people who will help and not hinder your progress. Here are a few key suggestions for recovering well in college — but don’t forget the importance of seeking professional help. Whether that help comes from on-campus counseling and psychological services or a treatment program like ours, you’re never alone. Try the following steps:
- Follow a 12-step recovery program.
- Join your campus sobriety group and connect with a support system if possible.
- Live in substance-free housing or find roommates who are also sober.
- Be honest with your peers — don’t make your sobriety a shameful secret.
- Remember the positives — when you’re tempted to return to former substance use, remind yourself of the advantages of sobriety.
- Set a list of goals you want to accomplish by the time you graduate, and make these goals your focus.
For help with addiction recovery from professionals who will be with you every step of the way, contact Gateway Foundation.