In some ways, staying sober during the school year can be even more difficult than staying sober during summer break. The start of a new school year comes with a host of new stresses and challenges. And when you’ve been hunched over a term paper for hours, trying to figure out how to raise your grade after a series of Cs, or sacrificing rent money to pay for your books, you might be tempted to take a drink or swallow a pill. Just one can’t hurt–right?
In fact, taking a single drink or a pill can derail everything you’ve worked for over the past several months. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep yourself from getting to that point. As you get ready for the school year to begin, here’s how to prepare yourself for any challenges that might come your way.
1. See if Your Campus Has a Recovery Center
Some colleges actually have on-campus recovery centers where you can attend meetings, get support and educate yourself on the best way to manage your addiction. If they don’t have an on-campus location, your school counselor might be able to point you in the direction of some programs and meetings in the area. Get informed before the school year begins so you’ll know where to go if you need help.
2. Make New Friends at College
As any addict knows, one of the most important steps you can take is cutting out old friends that you associate with drug use. It can be difficult, but if you’re hanging around people who are drinking or using drugs, you know that a relapse is inevitable. Luckily, college offers the perfect opportunity to make new friends. And many people attend college to better themselves, so you might be able to make new friends who also double as role models. Stay away from your old crowd and focus on building new relationships with positive, optimistic people.
3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can keep you focused and prevent your mind from ruminating on your cravings. If you take care of your mental health, you’ll find it easier to fight off those urges when they arrive. You’ll also find it easier to cope with the triggers that might cause those urges in the first place. Make sure you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and engage in meditation and other mindfulness techniques. You might also find it beneficial to see a therapist.
4. Make it Harder for Old Friends to Contact You
If one of your old friends gets ahold of you, it could threaten to derail your entire school year. Change your phone number, block them on social media, and don’t interact with them if you see them in the hallways. If you have classes with a member of your old group, politely let them know that you don’t want to hang out anymore. It might seem harsh, but you have to do what’s best for you.
5. Don’t Attend a School That’s Known for Partying
If you attend a big “party” school, it’s probably only a matter of time before you get dragged into the college subculture of drinking and partying. If this is your first semester, make sure you choose a small, low-key college that’s not known for having wild parties. And if you’re already attending a school like that, consider transferring to another college. You might have to re-take some of your classes, but it’s better than risking your sobriety.
6. Be Part of Campus Events
Skip the parties and find some positive, beneficial clubs and events that you can join. Go to concerts, join clubs, help organize events and make some great memories that don’t revolve around drugs or alcohol. Taking part in events can help you meet new people and boost your confidence, and get your mind off your old cravings.