Once you have started on your long journey to recovery and rehabilitation, it is time to start looking to your life outside your addiction. Although recovery is a lifelong process, it should not become your entire life. College is an important step towards enjoying a successful and rewarding career, but it can also be stressful and threaten your recovery unless you take your re-entry into academic life step by step, just like your journey to sobriety.
The First Step
Test the waters before diving into academic life. Rather than jumping in to a full time course load on a campus far away from your home, take a single course at a local community college, easing back into academics gradually and building up your confidence and academic work habits.
Choose the Right College
Some colleges are notorious “party schools”, where getting smashed over the weekend is a badge of honor. At the other extreme, some religious colleges completely ban alcohol and drugs and make students pledge to remain sober while attending the school. Some colleges have excellent support systems including recovery dorms and other facilities specifically geared to supporting your recovery.
Before you arrive on campus, you can do several things to ensure that your college experience supports rather than undermines your recovery. First, choose to live away from places where substance abuse is common. If you live near school, live at home and commute. Avoid fraternity culture and choose a residence that has a strong anti-alcohol and anti-drug policy.
Most colleges have extensive support systems for students struggling with addictions, learning disabilities, and mental health issues. Before you start your first semester, make sure to have your support system in place so that you aren’t running around trying to find the right support groups in the already hectic first week of classes. Your first step is registering with the disability office. By doing this, you can ensure that if you hit a rough patch during the term, you already have the mechanisms in place for any needed accommodations. Professors often need accommodation letters before they can give you extensions on assignments or other help. Join a recovery group to build support locally and meet other students in recovery.
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