With August approaching, thousands of students across the United States are finalizing their class schedules, purchasing textbooks and contacting their future roommates in preparation for a new semester of college.
For many students, getting ready for college is an exciting time. A new semester means new classes, friends and adventures. However, some students might not be as enthusiastic about a new school year. If you’re in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, returning to college can bring about apprehension.
College campuses are rife with drugs and alcohol. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, about 40 percent of college students engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking occurs when men drink five or more alcoholic beverages and women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.
The Monitoring the Future report also found that nearly 10 percent of college students misused the amphetamine Adderall in the past year. Additionally, daily marijuana use among students was at its highest level since the early 1980s.
The prevalence of substance use in college can be particularly concerning for students in recovery, who often deal with dangerous triggers and cravings that can result in a recurrence of substance use. If you’re a student who manages an addiction, you might fear being pressured to use drugs, attend a party saturated with alcohol or spend time with individuals who engage in substance use. These thoughts can induce stress and anxiety.
However, college doesn’t have to be stressful. You can take steps to avoid the temptations of substance use and enjoy your college experience along the way.
Avoid Certain Social Settings
If you know that exposure to drugs or alcohol can cause you to experience cravings, avoid college parties that you think will include these substances. Refraining from attending these social gatherings can be difficult, especially when faced with peer pressure. However, staying away from such environments can reduce your risk of using drugs or alcohol.
Make quality use of your time at college. While your friends are at a party, you could stay home and study for an upcoming test. You could also visit a library to complete homework or conduct research for an upcoming project.
When you’re not studying or in class, find sober activities to occupy your time. You could go see a movie at a nearby theater, read a book at a park, visit a museum, or host a sober game night at your apartment or dorm. These activities can keep your mind off of drugs and alcohol.
It may also help to spend time with people who do not use drugs or alcohol. These individuals are much less likely to pressure you to engage in substance use, and you and they may share similar hobbies.
Search for Sober Spaces
Many colleges have sober programs specifically for students in recovery. For example, dozens of academic institutions offer collegiate recovery programs. Located on campus, these safe and supportive environments provide a space for recovering students to socialize, host 12-step meetings and receive counseling.
Some colleges even offer sober dorms, which provide students with a safe place to live without the temptations of drugs or alcohol. Through sober spaces, students in recovery can interact with one another and participate in fun, sober activities.
Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Many people use drugs or alcohol to mitigate their stress. However, this is an unhealthy strategy that can lead to addiction. Instead, you can find healthy ways to manage stress that do not compromise your physical or mental health.
Research has shown that running can decrease stress, anxiety and depression. So when you feel stressed, go for a run around campus or through a neighborhood. Additionally, mindfulness meditation activities like yoga can also calm your mind and improve your physical health.
Learn the Power of Saying No
When pressured by your peers to use drugs or alcohol, just say no. Be polite yet firm. If they continue to encourage you to attend a party with drugs or to order a drink while at a restaurant, remove yourself from the situation.
Try your best to avoid situations that can lead to substance use. If you do choose to attend a social gathering that could include drugs or alcohol, be sure to bring along a close friend who sympathizes with your situation. If you’re pressured to use drugs or alcohol, he or she can support you and ensure that you do not give in to temptations.
If you attended 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous this summer, continue this trend while in college. Support group meetings allow participants to learn ways to cope with addiction, manage cravings and live a sober life. They can also interact with people in similar situations.
If your substance use becomes too difficult to handle, seek treatment. The Recovery Village offers evidence-based treatment for people of all ages. Trained addiction experts cater to treatment plans to an individual’s specific needs. With locations across the United States, The Recovery Village provides patients with a safe place to heal. To learn more about how treatment can help you better manage your addiction, contact The Recovery Village today.