Anyone who is new in recovery or just getting sober has probably been given the suggestion to change their “playmates and playgrounds”, in respect to steering clear of the people, places and things that are associated with their past. But for many adolescents and teenagers in recovery, going back to college makes this an incredibly difficult task.
According to one study, most of these individuals who decide to return to school after completing inpatient, outpatient or a drug rehab facility are offered some kind of drug on their first day back! For reasons such as this, many American colleges and higher education facilities now offer programs designed specifically for these young people who are new in recovery.
The Need for Recovery Programs in Schools
This newfound need for recovery programs in college is not going to get any smaller, either. More facts found on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that:
- Almost 1% of 12-year-olds in the US either abused or became dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs in the last year.
- That percentage increases each year up to age 21, where 22.8% fit the abuse or dependence criteria.
- Nearly 2.3 million Americans aged 12-17 need treatment for an alcohol or drug problem. Of this group, only 168,000 will receive treatment at a facility dedicated to that purpose.
Yet for adolescents who are lucky enough to receive treatment, they are also at the greatest risk for relapse. This is because the time which they complete treatment falls in line with when they will be returning to their colleges or hometowns, the same places that much of their abuse took place.
Center for Students in Recovery
The University of Texas at Austin has implemented a program to combat this issue. The Center for Students in Recovery, or CSR, provides programming, resources and activities that provide a pathway to both recovery and academic achievement. Founded in 2004, hundreds of college students have turned to CSR as a means of finding support in their recovery to help them stay sober while they are enrolled in college.
CSR supports the attendance of 12 step meetings and experiential groups, as well as organizing social, athletic and volunteer activities in which students can get involved in a recovery community while still attending class and living on campus. It helps to develop a vibrant support system and connects individuals with the resources needed to succeed in school.
What else can students in recovery do?
With the number of college students receiving treatment and returning to college growing, it is unfortunate that more colleges have not adopted programs such CSR. However, there are many similar strategies they use that you can implement yourself:
- Search for sober housing near campus
- Connect with a college counselor and inquire about resources
- Locate local young people AA groups
- Connect with a therapy group
- Make self-care a priority
- Engage in a spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, etc.)
- Commit to community service activities
- Explore new activities or hobbies
Remember, none of these things make a difference if an individual is not committed to recovery. Making their sobriety the highest priority is absolutely essential for success when going back to school. Recovery in college is possible, if you work for it.