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Sober College – Navigating Recovery As A Student

August 8, 2016


For teens in recovery, the transition to college may seem daunting – after all, the typical “college experience” is perceived to involve binge drinking at parties or experimenting with “study drugs” (prescription stimulants that are incorrectly perceived to improve academic performance, such as Adderall and Ritalin). However, college is really about growing and making memories, and there are many options that help students have a sober, rewarding college experience.

Collegiate Recovery Programs

Being part of a supportive recovery community on campus not only allows students to make friends and lifelong connections, but also encourages sobriety and reinforces recovery. Collegiate Recovery Programs provide students with seminars, meetings, team-building activities and other recovery support services right on campus. Most programs offer a physical space dedicated to students in recovery that allows them to gather and support each other comfortably and securely. These safe havens inspire pride in the recovery community, strengthening its principles and beliefs.  

Collegiate Recovery Programs can be found in schools all over the country. The Association of Recovery in Higher Education has compiled a list of more than 125 institutions with programs around the nation. Here are just some of the schools with Collegiate Recovery Programs:


Dry Campus and Substance-Free Dorms

Although attending a school that provides support and encourages sobriety through a Collegiate Recovery Program is an excellent choice, it is not the only one. Some students might choose a school without a program due to their preferred career path, location or other important factors. In these cases, there are options such as dry campus policies and substance-free dorms. 

At schools with a dry campus policy, drinking on campus is prohibited. For students in recovery, an alcohol-free atmosphere can make a great difference. Off-campus parties and gatherings might involve drinking, but dry campuses give students the chance to feel secure in their main environment. There is also the option of substance-free housing. Whether it is for health reasons, personal lifestyle or because they’re in recovery, residents of substance-free dorms abstain from using drugs and alcohol in their living areas.  A student’s on-campus residence should feel like home, and substance-free dorms can help those in recovery enjoy that comfort. 

Maintaining A Sober Lifestyle On Campus

Besides utilizing the school’s recovery services, there are plenty of steps teens can take to maintain a sober lifestyle through college. Health promotes sobriety and vice versa, so it is crucial to stay in shape physically and mentally. Students should consider joining activities like yoga and meditation, as they encourage participants to take good care of their bodies and minds. Schools usually provide mental health services such as counseling, which teens in recovery should definitely make use of. Most colleges also have AA and NA meetings. 

Sobriety in College is Possible

Starting college is an intimidating step for everyone, but it can be especially scary for teens in recovery.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about four in five college students drink alcohol. It is crucial to be prepared and know about the resources and services available to students in recovery. Before making the final decision on a college, it’s a good idea to speak to the different schools’ representatives and get informed–do they have a Collegiate Recovery Program? What is their drinking policy on campus? Do they offer substance-free housing? Equipped with the right tools and a good foundation, teens in recovery can thrive in college and enjoy rewarding, memorable experiences. 

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