How to Tackle College Sober

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Going to College Sober

Some people get sober in their 60s or 70s after having spent years battling a severe substance abuse disorder. Others get sober during adolescence, after a brief but eye-opening run in with a life-threatening substance abuse disorder. Which is easier? Well, it depends on who you ask. For some, breaking a habit after 50+ years of chronic use is extremely difficult. For others, attempting to get sober while still in school and surrounded by peers who drink socially and use drugs recreationally is quite a feat. If you got sober at a young age or if you are a young adult who is considering getting sober, you likely have quite a few questions regarding the process.

At Guardian Recovery we offer treatment options for young adults who are looking to enter into an addiction recovery program without neglecting their educational pursuits. What does going to college sober look like? Your personal experience is going to depend heavily on what route you decide to take. If you are dealing with a severe substance abuse disorder, entering into a residential, dual diagnosis treatment center might be the best option. If you have been drinking heavily and your grades have started to slip as a result (but you haven’t experienced any significant consequences), an intensive outpatient program might be the route to take. At Guardian Recovery we specialize in developing highly individualized treatment plans that take your own personal needs into consideration. To learn more, contact us today.

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Rates of Substance Abuse Among College Students

While college students abuse chemical substances of all kinds, rates of alcohol abuse and dependence are particularly high among people in this age group. According to a report published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than half of full-time college students (roughly 53 percent) reported drinking alcohol at least once during the past month. Thirty-three percent of college students reported binge drinking at least once within the past month. Binge drinking is defined as more than five alcoholic beverages in one sitting (for males) or more than four alcoholic beverages in one sitting (for females). The study determined that a fair amount of college students engaged in high intensity drinking, which means they consumed at least twice that amount.

According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future College Students and Young Adults Survey, marijuana use among college-aged students is at an all time high. In 2013 it was estimated roughly 35.5 percent of college students smoked marijuana regularly. By 2018 this number had increased to 42.5 percent. During the same year 5.9 percent of college students reported using marijuana on a daily basis. Prescription opioid abuse among college students has been declining over the course of the past several years, though rates of prescription stimulant abuse (specifically Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta) have been on the rise — 11.1 percent of all college students admitted to abusing Adderall at least once a month over the course of the past year; 14.6 percent of males in college use Adderall regularly as opposed to 8.8 percent of females. While alcohol is typically abused in a social setting, prescription stimulants are usually abused in an attempt to improve study habits or increase alertness and concentration. Regardless of which chemical substance you or your loved one has been abusing, Guardian Recovery is available to help.

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Tips for Tackling College Sober

If you are already sober and  planning to go to college soon, you might be wondering what steps you can take to protect your recovery. At Guardian Recovery we recommend the following:

  • Continue to hone your relapse prevention skills – Take the skills you learned in treatment and implement them in a real world setting. Continue to add to your list of relapse prevention techniques as you learn what works best for you.
  • Stay away from social events that you know are going to include drinking and/or recreational drug use – Putting yourself in a potentially triggering situation is never a good idea, regardless of how much fun you think it’s going to be. Stack your schedule full of healthy, sobriety-friendly activities.
  • Find a group of sober supports around your same age – College is a social time, and it helps to have people you can rely on for support. Meet people your own age in a young-people’s recovery meeting.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek extra help whenever it becomes necessary – Enter an IOP program near your campus or seek help and guidance from a licensed therapist.
  • Remember that falling behind on schoolwork or doing poorly on an exam isn’t the end of the world – Many addicts and alcoholics struggle with perfectionism. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths and assess your situation from a rational perspective.
  • Prioritize your sobriety over everything else – This is important. As soon as you begin to prioritize other things, there’s a good chance you’ll lose your footing and start heading towards a relapse.

For more tips on how to stay sober during college, contact us today.

Which Level of Care is Right for You?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 22, enrolled in school full-time and in need of addiction treatment, you might be wondering what level of care is right for you. There are several options available; the most beneficial option depends on your personal circumstances. At Guardian Recovery we are happy to answer any additional questions you might have and help you find the best option for your unique case.

Medical Detox – Detox is a good option if you have been struggling with a moderate or severe substance abuse disorder and are at risk of undergoing withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can be uncomfortable and unpredictable. It is common for drug and alcohol cravings to lead to relapse before the detox process is over (if you attempt to withdraw on your own).

Residential Inpatient Treatment – If you are struggling with a severe substance abuse disorder, we recommend inpatient rehab. No matter how important your educational pursuits are, nothing is more important than your physical, mental and emotional health. Think of rehab as a worthwhile investment that will make your experience when your return to school much more beneficial.

Partial Hospitalization – PHP is generally a step-down from residential inpatient treatment. Individuals attend treatment 5-6 days a week while living at home or at a sober living. PHP involves intensive behavioral therapy delivered in an individual and group setting, family therapy, case management services, relapse prevention training, life skills training and aftercare planning.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment – IOP allows individuals to attend school while attending treatment a few days a week for a few hours at a time. This option allows for the most flexibility of all treatment options.

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If you or someone you love is in college and is struggling with a substance use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We offer several levels of addiction treatment including medical detoxresidential inpatient treatmentpartial hospitalizationintensive outpatient treatment and aftercare. We have treatment facilities in New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Southern Florida and Colorado. Because every individual has a different experience with active addiction, treatment should never be a one-size-fits-all solution; different people require different levels of care. Regardless of what type of treatment service you or your loved one is looking for, we have you covered. Contact us today for more information.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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