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Going Back to School While in Recovery

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School comes with its myriad of stresses and anxieties, and balancing one’s recovery with ongoing scholastic ambitions is a complex act. However, it is always possible for your client to maintain sobriety while furthering their education. Going back to school while navigating recovery requires some preparation and education but is also incredibly rewarding. Embracing appropriate recovery strategies, planning, and taking stock of on-campus resources can all help each person further their academic career while balancing their hard-earned sobriety amidst the stresses of scholastics.

Understanding Academic Stresses

Balancing sobriety and recovery is a difficult task, and creating a plan to manage one’s sober lifestyle means understanding how academic stress impacts sobriety. There is an onslaught of stresses, expectations, and anxieties that can pollute one’s mind on any given day in academia. Looming deadlines, essays, and regular homework are all incredibly stressful, on top of any tests, midterms, or finals that may be on the horizon. This stress can serve as a catalyst for desperate and ill-advised coping strategies, and the use of addictive substances and urges to reengage can be difficult to alleviate. Planning to process academic stress healthily is paramount for a continued healthy, sober lifestyle. This essential, specific planning is also critical during preparation for tests and quizzes.

Preparing for Campus Cultures

Depending on your client’s school—be it high school, college, vocational school, or any other kind of educational facility—there is often an abundance of opportunities to engage with addictive substances. For those working hard to maintain their sobriety, being around addictive substances such as alcohol or drugs is incredibly difficult, with constant temptations, cravings, and even mental warfare romanticizing past use. Attitudes of peers and the student body can cause a campus party culture or normalization of the use of these substances, all influencing one’s continued sobriety. 

Drugs are widespread across campuses, especially marijuana and Adderall. The former is often advertised as a stress reliever, with the latter highly touted as a study aid for all-nighters. Coping with the lasting effects of addiction is a complex undertaking. However, continuing to prioritize sobriety and sober coping strategies is essential, especially in this stressful space filled with potential temptations, urges, and peers that may not understand the importance of your client’s sober journey. 

Remain Organized

Schedules are a powerful resource for those balancing their recovery with their academic career. Using one’s schedule to their advantage provides a great source of stability and consistency needed to monitor their mental and emotional health, as well as sobriety. Maintaining an organized schedule helps individuals mark how much of their day is dictated by scholastics, ensuring sufficient study time and work. It also provides that an individual is taking time for self-care and relaxation to process the stresses of the academic world. 

Scheduling one’s classes around continued outpatient group meetings keep the two from directly conflicting with each other and ensures that they don’t have to choose between their education and sobriety. This strategy, coupled with dedicated time for personal activities, hobbies, therapeutic modalities, and rest, can create the balance needed to manage the stresses of both recovery and scholastics with necessary outlets.

Take Stock of Campus Opportunities

While school can be a source of stress, it is also a source of opportunity for your client. Going back to school while managing recovery demands a unique approach, and on-campus opportunities present a unique way to navigate this complicated time. Some campuses may have on-campus group meetings for those in similar situations of navigating their sobriety while tackling the trials associated with academic endeavors. These are fantastic resources as they are comprised of understanding peers. Like-minded people cultivate productive strategies and ideas during these group meetings specific to the particular trials of a school or campus atmosphere. Taking time to locate these groups provides an excellent way for an individual to prioritize sobriety throughout their academic career. These peers can even become trusted on-campus supports available to address and tackle the difficulties present at all stages of recovery.

Get Involved in Clubs

However, on-campus opportunities don’t necessarily have to be addiction recovery-focused. Campus clubs, hobby groups, and other engaging activities and social events help students fill their time with things that further their interests, all while distancing themselves from too much downtime or addictive substances. These social outlets are crucial in battling addiction by providing a place of enjoyment, leisure, and, most importantly—belonging. Being an active part of a community is an effective way for your client to validate their sober choices while maintaining their educational goals. 

Preparing for the unique trials of academics and recovery is essential for going back to school. However, it is entirely possible to further one’s academic career alongside their continued sobriety, and recovery can serve to scaffold the skills for a bright, evolving future. 

Going back to school while in recovery can be a tricky balancing act, but we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center of Orange County, California, are here to help you today. We understand the unique difficulties of navigating your future academics with your ongoing sobriety. We offer an array of special programs to help you start the next step in your education in the most informed and supported way. Whether you are just beginning your recovery with detox or residential programs or looking to further your own goals while maintaining your outpatient care, you can create a plan dedicated to your unique objectives and needs throughout your journey with sobriety. Our understanding staff will ensure that your time with us is complete with resources for your individual needs, providing you with space to study while balancing a schedule for you. For more information, call to speak to us today at (800) 778-1772.

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