5 Tips to Prepare Yourself for College in Recovery

More and more often an education is required to secure a job; many companies see a college degree as a sign of initiative and good follow through skills.

If you’re diligent you can prepare yourself for the challenges of college while keeping your recovery program intact.

Most addiction starts in late adolescence, so setting and achieving goals may be totally foreign to you. Since recovery from substance abuse is about learning how to change the way you think, and how you face unexpected life situations, college is an exceptional way to practice the tools you’ve learned in sobriety.

Heading off to college can be exciting and intimidating and most students experience some form of anxiety. Anxiety and overwhelming emotions can be a trigger for those in recovery, but with a little work you can prepare yourself for your new adventure.

Before you start to freak out, put a plan together and take your future into your own hands.

  • Research School. Do your research. Find out if the schools you’re interested in offer any resources for substance abuse recovery or mental health disorders. Many schools today offer programs for students recovering from addiction. The Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) offers plenty of information on different schools, and the programs they have available.
  • Be Prepared for Triggers. Make sure you have a relapse prevention plan in place and a solid foundation for your recovery. Find out what 12 step meetings are in the area and bring a phone list in case you need to reach out to someone. Be proactive and make talk to your school counselor; they’re there to assist you and may have some additional resources to offer. Know your relapse triggers and be prepared for them.

    Have a plan before you go. There are lots of resources to help.
  • Create a Daily or Weekly Schedule. Make sure you know what you’ll be doing every day when you’re not in class. One of the most dangerous things for someone in recovery is boredom. Throw in a major life change and it could quickly trigger a relapse if you don’t think ahead. When you’re not in class, schedule your meetings, and any other appointments you have. Create a list of activities you enjoy; you can refer to this list if you find yourself feeling lonely or uncomfortable.
  • Stay Focused on Your Goals. College is a fun and exciting experience, but don’t forget why you’re there. Make a point to create a healthy balance between class and your personal life. This is a skill you’ll use throughout your adult life. If you let your school slip, you may find yourself having anxiety over failing classes. Learn to maintain that balance and avoid the added stress of having to get caught back up on school work.
  • Have Fun and Avoid Unattainable Expectations. Being in recovery at college doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Enjoy sober activities and find people with similar interests. Also, no one is perfect and you’re not going to kill it in every class. As long as you’re truly doing your best success is inevitable. Remember, life is a marathon, not a race. Don’t compare yourself to others and end up letting yourself down because you can’t keep up.

As is Life; Recovery is an Education without a Graduation.

While pursuing a college education in recovery offers its own unique set of challenges, with a little preparation you can accomplish your goals.

About  Jose Hernandez, CDAC

For nine years Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor. Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety. Contact Jose at http://launchcenters.com/

13 thoughts on “5 Tips to Prepare Yourself for College in Recovery

    1. Amen! Thank you for saying that. College is not for everyone. It’s too bad that people are not offered the option of trade work training. Brilliant point. Once our daughter realized that college was not for her and stopped going – her career sky rocketed. She thought we wanted her to go to college. Nah, we just want our kids to be happy and do what they love.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, I can’t imagine a younger me in college and in recovery. I applaud those who have already figured out they have a problem at that point. I’m certain there are more resources for college students now than in the eighties but it’s still going to be years of will power to get through.BTW: a marathon *is* a race 😉


    1. It’s remarkable how people are hitting a “bottom” in their teens and twenties. When I got sober at 26, I felt like a complete failure because everyone else was in their forties and above. The sober people looked at me like my “young” age was an asset. I looked at me and thought “I have ruined my life in my twenties” and “the rest of you got to ‘party’ for decades longer”. How silly that seems now. When I take calls for my day job, the age ranges from 18 to 29 on average. Yikes. People are turning to full-blown addicts and alcoholics at such a young age.


  2. Pingback: recoveryisajourney

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