After winter break, getting back into the mindset of meeting assignment deadlines and studying for exams can be difficult. This is especially true if you are recovering from a substance abuse disorder.
If you sought addiction treatment for your reliance on Adderall — the common drug abused to enhance academic performance — you may feel very apprehensive about returning to college.The thought of keeping up with long reading assignments, numerous essays, and intense exams while maintaining your sobriety may seem overwhelming. But the best thing for you to do is to create a plan that can help you safely reach your academic goals and maintain your sobriety in college, says Mountainside Assistant Clinical Director Lisa Westerson.
Below are some of Westerson’s tips for navigating college sober.
Ask for Support
While addiction is often isolating, recovery shouldn’t be. Surround yourself with as much support as possible and never hesitate to ask for help. While reaching out to loved ones is important, be sure to see what resources you have available through your school. They may offer 12 Step meetings or know of any meetings held near the campus. You may have counseling services available to you. Your school may have clubs on campus that embrace a sober lifestyle. And many schools now offer sober housing for students recovering from addiction.
Be sure to also seek help managing your academic work load. Tutors and even study buddies can make a real difference in both your grades and stress levels.
Remember, you are never alone. If you feel overwhelmed in any way, reach out for help.
You made a positive decision by getting treatment, but you must stay vigilant about how the added stress of school affects your sobriety. Just as recovery requires a constant commitment to living a sober life, it also requires honesty – with others and with yourself.
It is important that you take some time to do some personal inventory and identify potential problems. Make a list of things that have caused you stress or anxiety in the past. Share this list with someone who knows you well and can point out anything you might have missed. Seeing your stressors on paper can make it easier to figure out how to best manage them.
This list can help you identify whether or not you need to:
- Take fewer classes
- Utilize a tutor
- Change course times
- Change your daily schedule
In some cases, you may realize that your stressors are not just based on your course-load, but also your environment. Maybe living in the dorms is not working out, and moving back home and commuting to class is a better fit for you. Perhaps the culture at your school is too focused on partying and social activities. In that case, look at transferring to a school that is a better fit for you.
It is important that you give yourself time to re-acclimate yourself to school. Take things slowly, and always do what is best for you and your recovery.
Utilize Your Recovery Skills
During treatment, you likely gained a few recovery skills and relapse prevention tools. Now is the time to put them to use!
Avoid High Risk Situations
Just as it is important to recognize what causes you stress and anxiety, it is also important to recognize high risk situations that could trigger you to use. Some common high risk situations include being angry or lonely. If you experience these emotions, reach out for help.
Find Ways to Relax
No matter how busy your schedule gets, it is crucial that you make sure to block some time out to relax. Whether that is going for a run, taking a bubble bath, or binge watching your favorite show, letting your mind unwind does wonders for your mental health and your recovery.
Discover Your Passion
College is more than just going to class. It is also a great time to discover what you like and what you don’t. Try different things – writing, dancing, boxing, volunteering – until you find something that you feel passionate about. Having a hobby not only helps you relax, but makes you an overall happier person.
Learn to Cope
Challenges and roadblocks are a part of life, and you need to be ready for when they occur. Be sure to establish a strong support system you can reach out to and practice some mindfulness techniques, grounding exercises, and meditation.
Self-care is very important in maintaining a stable recovery. So, be sure that you take care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit.
- Be sure to eat nutritious meals
- Get enough sleep
- Keep hydrated throughout the day
- Reward yourself when you do well on a test
- Surround yourself with positive people
Know that there is no cure for addiction, but long-term recovery is possible. And while there may be a lot of temptation to use Adderall on campus, having the right tools and support can help you stay focused on your goal to succeed academically and in your recovery.