The Importance of Community When Sober in College
The decision to further or continue your higher education is a commendable decision!
Even more impressive is the fact that you will be doing it while sober. Certainly, the most rewarding and prolific paths people take in life are inevitably those with the rockiest surfaces and the steepest inclines. A flat, uneventful hike becomes monotonous and can become filled with ennui that might lead to distraction and loss of focus. College sobriety can definitely propose a steep and rocky climb that will ultimately produce the most self-actualization and pride at the top.
Yes, it Does Take a Community
Human beings are very social creatures, although personalities, upbringing, and genetics play a role in just how much each individual wishes to interact. People
who are in recovery may think that they need to isolate themselves from others when almost the exact opposite is true. College students occasionally need some time alone, and study habits will differ from person to person. However, a strong and supportive community is imperative to complete a journey of college sobriety.
At the best addiction treatment programs, community is a crucial aspect. The programs are devout believers that there must be a practice of maintaining a strong community throughout college. Just as there must be an atmosphere among persons in recovery, the college support system must promote choice accountability, self-discipline, and willpower. This is where the support community is key.
Furthermore, for those who are fans of empirical studies, research, and details information offered by the National Institutes of Health regarding their research on the impact of peer support groups and communities of persons who are suffering from some of the same addictions and mental disorders.
Have Confidence in This Journey
Here are some of the positive aspects that you will be experiencing on your college journey:
- Attending college — and maintaining college sobriety — will build muscles, stamina, and character you never knew you had!
- An education is something that can never be taken away from a sober person. It can be lost to an addicted person. Never forget that.
- A college degree increases a person’s income-earning ability, teach-ability, social status, and self-esteem
- Networks built in college can last a lifetime
Ask any professional about the best years in their lives and most of them will tell you that their college years were their favorite and/or best years. They certainly can be, but like anything else worthwhile, higher education has its challenges and temptations.
Tempting Challenges to be Overcome
- College is often physically, mentally, and socially challenging to anyone
- Substance use and abuse often run rampant on university campuses and temptations are readily available
- Although community is key, it is also imperative to learn to work alone and to depend on your own brain and perseverance
- Peer pressure in college is more intense than it is in high school; you will need to use advanced maturity
Always Keep in Mind
Remember that this will be a journey that begins with building a foundation that no one can take away.
Keep reminding yourself that not only are you furthering your education, college will build confidence, income potential, networking capabilities, and an overall ability for critical thinking. Ultimately, completing your degree will inspire and motivate you to know you can stay sober perpetually!
Resources Offered by Most Universities and Colleges
Not all universities are Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Most state universities need students and have less stringent entrance requirements. Wise institutions have learned to seek to encourage enrollment by developing and providing support systems for various populations and demographics in society. Just as there are almost always organizations for older (“non-traditional”) students, athletics, LGBTQ students, athletic students, and religious/ethnic groups, smart higher learning institutions have realized there is a population who has amazing potential to be successful in college, and that population just happens to be those who seek sobriety and who plan to maintain that sobriety in college.
Here are some ideas for social groups and communities that make important support systems for staying sober in college:
- Theological offerings and church groups are obviously at the forefront. Campus Crusade for Christ is just one example of many.
- MENSA. Yes, “Mensa,” which means “table” in Latin. Mensa is a round-table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.
- Study and support groups within each particular program of study. These are easily obtained via the college dean
- On-campus Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-anon groups
- Certain Greek organizations (fraternities and sororities) which have sobriety as their foundation
The above list is just a general idea of all the support systems available to you on your journey. Most universities have a non-exhaustible list.
A Quick Summation of Ideas for Staying Sober in College
In summation, here is a quick check-list:
- Definitely request sober housing, choose a sober roommate, or live off-campus away from potential partying roomies
- Get involved in sober activities, sports and/or clubs
- Join sober groups on or off-campus
- Obtain a counselor on or off-campus and maintain steady visits with him/her
- Get a job but be sure to not overextend yourself and your study time
- Connect spiritually with a church group or other deity worship
- Get in touch with your own emotions and learn ways to control them via healthy ways such as yoga, meditation, or exercise
- Get healthy and stay healthy. Maintain a diet low in junk food, exercise, and get enough sleep
Regardless if you will be entering college for the first time or you are a more mature individual entering or returning to college, staying sober in college should be your first priority! Remember that Ethos Recovery is always here to help individuals or parents of those who may be struggling with substance issues. Our therapists specialize in not only addiction but also in mental disorders, and we also teach our clientele the benefits of 12-step programs and mindfulness. For more information about how we can help with the higher education process, contact us today or call 323-942-9996.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.