Renaissance Ranch

Returning to College After Treatment

Aug 22, 2021

Now that you have finished treatment, you may be ready to build a new future by going to college. You may have started college but never finished or never taken the opportunity to further your education. Despite your past, deciding to go to college is a significant and scary step. Luckily, you can do things to ensure your transition into college smoothly and safely in recovery. 

Do Your Research

Make sure you study something that you’re passionate about. You’re going to be doing it for a while. Check into the accreditation of your school for your particular degree. All universities are not the same. Some don’t offer the accreditation you might need for your specific field of interest. If your chosen career requires a license, research your state requirements and know which schools have information regarding licensing. 

You can ask the Admissions counselor questions regarding everything about your potential education there, so be specific. Once you’ve picked which school you’ll be attending and sorted the requirements, you can hone in on how to stay sober while getting an education.

Plan Ahead

If you plan to be a full-time student, you will probably have to opt-in for health insurance through your school, so you might as well take advantage of that. Meet the counselors there, and remember you have a resource for mental health concerns. Ask them about sober spaces. Stay in contact with your sponsor. Find the closest 12-Step groups around campus you can check in with when you have a stressful day at school. Explore the campus. Map a path to take a walk around when you need to get your blood moving. Find the gym and auditorium. Investigate events that seem fun. 

In college, you’ll also need to identify places you can go when you need a break from studying and expanding your interests. Even if you’re attending school online, you can acquaint yourself with the different systems and webpages or portals you’ll be using. Let them become second nature before you start classes. As an online student, you still have access to counselors and advisors, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions and figure out what services are available to distance learners.  

Meeting People

Be up-front about your sobriety. Yes, it can be awkward to admit. You have nothing to be ashamed of; you should be proud that you’re in recovery. You’ll be invited to fewer events, but that’s less stress on you to put yourself in a tempting environment. There might be sobriety-focused groups on campus. Look into communities that don’t revolve around alcohol or drugs. You may find sporting events and outdoor activities to provide you with a chance to interact with other people. 

For online students, you may find servers that act as hang-outs or chat boards.  Most campuses have board games or video game nights. If there’s a drama department, you could help build sets or sign up to act. There are online opportunities as well; for example, if you sign up for work-study, you’ll be in contact with a member of the administration who can direct you where to go to find other students like you. You want to be networking. 

School is about making friends and also recommendations for future endeavors. Establishing a good rapport with your professors and department heads will help you when you start looking for work after graduation. 

Get Organized

Get on a schedule that works for you. Learning balance is the single most important lesson of school. Figure out the time of day you’re most alert; this is different for everyone. It’s a good exercise to know yourself as a sober person. Are you most productive first thing when you wake up or are the evening hours most conducive to work for you? Pace yourself. 

Being organized is the difference between success and burnout. Put your itinerary in your calendar. If your classes are online, make sure you arrive early and prepared, you are still making an impression. Implement good time management skills by getting started on your work as soon as you get an assignment. It pays not to procrastinate. 

Instead of putting off a task until the last minute, try to work on it a little at a time and reward yourself in between blocks. Think of the work as something you get to do, not something you have to do. Change your mindset around what it means to your life to complete it. 

Watch for Burnout

Watch for burnout. You still need time for yourself. Implement a self-care routine that helps you relax and feel good about your life. Take breaks and relax your mind through meditation. Sometimes inspiration hits when we’re in a state of calm. It helps to empty your mind and quiet your thoughts. To get into peace, you can recognize a thought, label it, and then release it. You can learn a lot about yourself this way. What thoughts keep trying to surface? Commune with yourself and learn to appreciate the calm. 

Going back to school is an exciting time in life. You get to imagine your future and work toward it. However, while in recovery, you’ll have to take a few extra steps to ensure you stay sober. Furthering your education is an investment in yourself. It also means changing your schedule and added responsibilities. As you research and learn about different subjects, you’re expanding your mind. Through it all, you’ll have to prioritize your sobriety. Thinking ahead, making a plan, and maintaining a link to support can help. However, big life decisions can put you on an emotional roller coaster. Remember to invest time in self-care. Luckily, Renaissance Ranch is here to support you in your new endeavors. Our staff is available to assist you with what you need to stay sober. You can lean on the staff members at Renaissance Ranch in times of uncertainty. Call us today at (801) 308-8898 whenever you’re looking for support.