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Preparing for a Sober College Experience
Preparing for a Sober College Experience

Originally posted on Roots Through Recovery’s blog on July 6, 2018. 

Whether you’re in recovery from a substance use disorder or simply want to avoid alcohol and drug-related problems in college, abstinence is the best answer. A sober college experience promotes better academic performance and can prevent a number of problems related to drug and alcohol abuse.

However, enjoying a sober college experience can be a challenge. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), substance abuse at college is a ritual that many students, and even some parents, view as an integral part of the college experience.

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nearly 60 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol in the past month, and nearly two-thirds of them engaged in binge drinking during the same period. Additionally, around 20 percent of college students meet the clinical criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Many more suffer serious negative consequences as a result of abusing drugs or alcohol.

The Consequences of Substance Abuse in College

Each year, around 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. Nearly 700,000 students in the same age group are physically assaulted by another student who is under the influence, and another 97,000 report experiencing an alcohol-related sexual assault. Substance abuse can lead to high-risk behaviors like having unsafe sex, walking alone in a dangerous area or driving while under the influence.

Academic problems are also common among students who engage in substance abuse. Twenty-five percent of college students report negative academic consequences of their substance abuse, including missing classes, falling behind, and performing poorly on tests and assignments, according to NIAAA.

Tips for a Sober College Experience

Preparing for a sober college experience involves pre-planning and making choices that promote abstinence. These tips can help you enjoy a fun, productive and fulfilling sober college experience.

Live in a sober environment. Many college campuses offer sober residence halls where students can enjoy a community of others looking for a sober college experience. Living at home while attending college can also help reduce opportunities for substance abuse.

Join a campus support group. If you’re in recovery, your first order of business at college should be joining a support group on campus. A support group provides you with a network of sober peers who can offer support and friendship. Support groups will also likely offer planned social activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Stay busy. Filling your time with fun, productive activities helps prevent boredom and isolation that can lead to substance use on campus. Consider a part-time job, join an academic club, play intramural sports or get involved in activism or volunteer work. Most colleges offer many opportunities for student involvement.

Take care of yourself. In recovery, self-care is a major consideration for preventing relapse, according to an article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. A high level of self-care ensures good physical and mental health, which can go a long way toward promoting healthy choices, including abstaining from drugs or alcohol. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy food and exercise each day.

Keep your stress under control. College can be a stressful time, and stress can lead to substance abuse as a method to relax and forget your troubles. Keeping stress levels low can help ensure you have the resolve to maintain sobriety. Ensure there is plenty of time each day for keeping up with academic responsibilities, as well as carving out time for fun and relaxation every day. If you feel overwhelmed, visit with a counselor, who can help you come up with solutions for better time management or reduce the intensity of your academic schedule.

With a little planning ahead and staying mindful of habits and choices, it’s entirely possible to enjoy a sober college experience that will improve your prospects for the future and leave you with fond memories and lifelong friendships.

Read the original article here.

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