College Sober Living and the Recovering Alcoholic
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If you are wondering how widespread excessive alcohol use on college campuses is, observe the following facts provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
- Drinking: In 2014, 59.8 percent of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared with 51.5 percent of their non-college peers.
- Binge Drinking: In 2014, 37.9 percent of college students ages 18–22 engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion) in the past month compared with 33.5 percent of their non-college peers.
- Heavy Drinking: In 2014, 12.2 percent of college students ages 18–22 engaged in heavy drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion on 5 or more occasions per month) in the past month compared with 9.5 percent of their non-college peers.
If you are considering college and these numbers scare you, that’s a normal reaction. If you are a recovering alcoholic, it can be terrifying. How can you concentrate on your studies in an environment that puts you at constant risk of use? After all the time that you worried your friends and family with your alcohol abuse, you won’t want to go back to that place, and they won’t want you to either.
Do you risk falling back into alcohol use or do you risk dropping out because the responsibility of remaining sober distracts you from your studies?
Luckily, you may not have to run these risks because sober living houses are becoming quite common on college campuses. Rather than reside in a traditional dorm, you can take advantage of the peer support and social reinforcement of your sobriety that are provided in sober housing. And, they aren’t simply limited to people with alcohol abuse issues. All recovering addicts are welcome.
Will I Get Treatment in Sober Living?
Although there are sober housing situations that do provide treatment, most college campuses provide what are known as freestanding sober living houses that are not associated with treatment of any kind. There is a movement to bring recovery houses with more focus on treatment to campuses, but the movement hasn’t really taken off yet. You can always check with your campus to see whether such housing is offered.
What Can I Expect?
Instead, these houses are used by people who have experience with formal treatment, sometimes right before entering the sober house. Developing a support system is a large component of the sober housing philosophy and connecting with your peers on a college campus will help you to maintain your recovery and sobriety.
The article “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from There,” mentions those who have been in recovery for the longest period are asked to help guide newbies. This “giving back” aligns with the principles of a 12 step program.
You will likely be strongly encouraged or required to attend 12 step meetings, and you will be asked to participate fully. Get a sponsor. Actively follow the steps. Volunteer for service.
You will also be asked to stay away from friends and family who will encourage you to drink, especially people you used to drink with in the past. You should be using the housing to form a new support network.
Do They Work?
Yes. They do. One study discovered that retention in sober living houses is wonderful, with average lengths of stay exceeding the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommendation of 90 days. People remain because the housing offers them the stability they need to succeed.
Another incident of data gathering at University of Minnesota, St. Cloud showed that residents of sober housing had higher average GPAs than other groups on campus. Many have been recipients of fellowships.
College is a difficult time for everyone. We all make adjustments. But, you can’t risk your sobriety. Sober housing provides the support that you need to excel in your educational endeavors. For more information on sober living, contact our helpline at 800-373-1667 (Who Answers?) .