Navigating College After Getting Sober

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Navigating College After Getting Sober

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Navigating College After Getting Sober can be challenging. The concept of staying sober in college may seem incredibly intimidating, however, it is not impossible. Although college is known to be the time for experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and partying, that does not mean you cannot have a full college experience while staying sober. 

For newly sober people, college can be a minefield of triggers for possible relapse. From your peers using drugs and alcohol, to school stressors, to adjusting to a new environment, learning how to cope with and manage these triggers is essential. Here are some ways to decrease the probability of relapse in college and safe-guard your sobriety while having the college experience.

Tips to Navigating College after Getting Sober

Know your triggers

Everyone has their own triggers in recovery. It is important you identify your triggers and either avoid them the best you can or find ways to cope with them. Once you do this, these triggers will hopefully become easier to deal with overtime.

Connect with others in recovery or/and those who choose not to drink

You are not alone in your sobriety. Many college students are in similar situations as you and are also looking for new friends. Finding others who enjoy sober fun can help with socializing in college while in recovery. That being said, this does not mean you cannot be friends with those who drink. Who you can and cannot hang out with is dependent on your comfort level and ability to abstain from using when around drugs and/or alcohol.

Hold yourself accountable

Making sure to stay on track with your program and reaching out for support when needed is integral to staying sober in college. If you find you need more support than you currently have, reach out to your college counselor as they usually have suggestions on who to contact to get the support you need.

Look into organizations at your college that abstain from drinking heavily

Colleges often have different organizations that do not put drinking and drugs at the center of their activities. Organizations like this offer a great opportunity to socialize and meet new people in a safe environment.

Develop structure in your daily life

Making a schedule for each week can help your life seem more manageable and, thus, less stressful. Making sure to schedule time to complete school work and assignments, as well as time to work your program and practice self-care, can help you safeguard your sobriety. Also, making sure to make time to socialize is important in sobriety as you are much more likely to relapse if you are feeling isolated.

Determine if the school offers sober housing

Some colleges have begun to offer sober housing options, such as Ohio State University, West Virginia University, and Penn State University. Look into whether or not your school has these options and, if they do, it may be a good idea to requesting to live in that housing. If your school does not offer sober housing, living in off-campus housing may be smart if you do not feel comfortable in residences where partying and drinking may be common.

Find self-care practices that help you reduce stress and decrease cravings

Due to the many stressors college poses, it is important to find different self-care activities that can help you de-stress. Some examples of self-care are meditation, yoga, going for a walk, taking a bath, drawing, and more. Whatever self-care practices you implement will help you decrease your stress levels and hopefully, as a result, decrease your cravings to use. 

Ultimately, your security in your sobriety and comfort level will determine what steps you take to maintain your sobriety in college. Applying even a few of these tips can help alleviate some stress around staying sober in college.

Preparing for College with NuView Treatment Center

Navigating College After Getting Sober can be daunting, but NuView Treatment Center can help you best equipped yourself to face the challenges. At NuView’s rehabs in Los Angeles California, you can receive the support you need to become confident in your sobriety. NuView offers outpatient addiction treatment that is designed to give you the tools you need to recover from dependency and thrive in your daily life.

The staff is trained to develop individualized treatment plans for each client and assist with addressing underlying conditions (including mental health disorders) that may be motivating your drug or alcohol use. Through this, you will develop new, healthy coping mechanisms and plans for dealing with possible triggers you may experience. Having these skills is necessary for navigating possible challenging situations that threaten your recovery. The compassion evidence-based therapeutic techniques used at NuView Treatment Center will help you develop the skills and tools to stay sober long-term while enjoying your college experience.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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