Back To College: Tips On Staying Sober and Having Your Best Year
College is an exciting time, but it can also be filled with stress and pressure, especially for students in recovery. Living on your own for the first time, meeting new people, taking challenging classes, preparing for exams can all be very overwhelming. Now imagine being newly sober and dealing with these same pressures. This combination can prove to be a considerable challenge and without the proper support and guidance – can end in a relapse. One of the most significant temptations for those trying to stay sober in college is campus parties and sporting events. Tailgating usually involves tons of alcohol, and on-campus parties are flowing with an abundance of alcohol and drugs. In terms of official numbers of alcohol and drug use on campuses, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), released a new study (2018) revealing:
- Drug use in college-age adults ages 19-22 shows an increase in marijuana use in the past five years, including vaping with marijuana, as well as a significant increase in nicotine vaping.
- Annual use of MDMA (ecstasy, Molly) was higher among college students (4.4%) than non-college youth (2.8%).
- Amphetamine use without a doctor’s prescription was higher among college students than among their non-college age-mates. Annual prevalence of amphetamine use among college students was 8.5% in 2018, compared to 4.8% in the non-college group.
- In terms of alcohol use in 2018, the prevalence was higher for the college group than the non-college group. College students also had a higher prevalence of binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) than their non-college peers. Similarly, more college students (38%) reported having been drunk in the prior 30 days, compared to non-college respondents (24%).
Additionally, with college usually being the first time individuals are away from their parents, many rely on friends for support, and as a result, students feel the need to impress them. In fact, according to a study conducted by NYU Steinhardt Department of Psychology, a high drinking rate in college was directly related to forming new peer groups. So how can you enjoy your college experience, have a great social network, and remain sober? It may be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some ideas and techniques you can use to help keep you on the right track this semester.
Staying sober during college parties
Dance, be the DJ, start a game, or take fun instant polaroids – but try and do something other than standing around. If you look like you’re busy having a good time, people may be less likely to pressure you into drinking alcohol or taking substances. Offer to be the designated driver and make sure your friends get home safely. This is a great excuse to not join friends in drinking or doing drugs. Keeping a bottled drink like sparkling soda or water in your hand may help to prevent people from offering you alcohol. And remember, you can leave at any time.
Throw sober parties
Attending a party while you’re in recovery can be a challenge, so why not host one? The great thing about throwing a sober party is that you have more control over the presence of alcohol and drugs and you can be honest about your sobriety in a supportive atmosphere. Offering unique food, fun alcohol-free drinks, and games can make a great sober party. Prepare some creative dishes or make it a fun potluck and ask your friends to bring their favorite party food to share. Host a themed party where everyone dresses up or plan it around a sporting event or even use it to raise funds for a charity. Organizations like PartyO.org give some great party suggestions and ideas, but also offer training for students on how to host sober parties for their campuses.
Find outdoor adventure
Is your college near running, hiking or biking trails? Climbing routes or indoor climbing gyms? There are groups that offer weekly “meet-ups” to explore a rural town or large city while getting a fantastic workout. Staying active can expand your mind and your social circle while also keeping you healthy and sober.
Students can go to restaurants with “sober bars” that don’t serve alcohol and offer mocktails, cool desserts, and yummy food for a fun night out. Coffee/tea shops also host game nights, art shows, poetry readings, as well as music and bands for local colleges and universities.
These are only a few suggestions, but there are a lot of fun and sober activities that you can participate in (or host) while staying grounded in your recovery. Finding local AA meetings (some may be hosted on your campus) and staying connected to support groups are also vital in staying sober during college. In these groups, you will find friends who have similar academic experiences and will help you stay on track towards achieving your goals and dreams.
Substance Use, Addiction, and Treatment
College should be a time of great learning, great friendships, and wonderful memories, and even though sobriety can feel isolating, you are not alone. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and you deserve to feel happy in a new sober lifestyle.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, get help today. Many who get treatment proceed to live healthy and meaningful lives in sobriety. Do not let the stigma of addiction keep you from getting help, contact Daylight Recovery Services today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.