Recovery opens up a world of opportunities we may not have thought possible. Goals and aspirations that went by the wayside have slowly come back into focus. When making the decision to go back to school, there is much for the recovering addict to consider. With preparedness and the right support system, we can pursue the education we desire.
The Addict and the Academic
When going back to school, you should be armed with information about the nature of your disease and the nature of student life. Take the time to ask yourself questions about your goals in school.
- What do I hope to achieve? Consider what kind of degree you hope to achieve and the career path you wish to follow.
- How much time do I reasonably have to give to school? Consider what other responsibilities you have and where school can actually fit into your life.
- What are the risk factors? Consider things like campus life and the temptation it carries. Account for your current stress level and how it might rise.
Once you’ve taken an honest appraisal of your situation, it’s essential to evaluate your program of recovery. Our program of recovery must be our first priority, no matter what other goals are being considered. If we cannot maintain sobriety, we lose all the things we have gained as a result. If we relapse, we lose our family, job, and any hopes we have for our future.
If further education is an aspiration, you can make it a reality. People in 12-step meetings often say that addicts are the smartest people in any room. They’re only held back by their untreated alcoholism or addiction. Recovery does not need to cost you academic goals. It just requires thought and planning.
The Balancing Act
All things in life are a balancing act, and keeping everything in the air takes discipline. It’s essential to consider which priorities you already have. Evaluate those that can shift and change, and then consider how much space is left over for school. A therapist, sponsor, partner, and close friends should all be used as resources when taking on this endeavor. Input from others may aid in a more realistic look at what time you are capable of giving.
School is in Session
No matter how much thought and planning you have given to school, the daily balancing act can still be challenging. Maintaining academic goals in addition to recovery, work, and relationships, is a massive undertaking. What can you put into practice to help aid you through?
- Maintain open communication in all areas of your life – It is vital to communicate your responsibilities with your support group. Maintain regular contact about how you are handling each area of your life. Consider opening lines of communication with your professors and/or boss so that you can reach out if you are struggling. Ask for help. This is a challenging task for people in recovery, but you will need support. Ask for assistance when you need it and be clear about how people can help.
- Practice self-care – A self-care routine is vital for anyone in recovery. For those who are balancing student life with numerous other commitments, self-care has to be a priority. Not only should your self-care practice continue, but it should also expand. Consider your needs for school, like adequate sleep, relaxation tools, and a healthy diet.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself – While we want to enter into all endeavors with high hopes, give yourself space to do as well as you can. Some weeks may be harder than others. Not every exam is going to go well, and sometimes you’ll fall short in your relationships. Perfectionism should be laid aside as we allow ourselves the room to be human. Be careful that your challenges do not turn to negative self-talk. If you’re struggling with this, reach out to your support network.
- Avoid temptations – College life is a party for many. The excessive nature of it can become an issue even for people without a substance use disorder. Avoid putting yourself in situations where these temptations are close at hand. Stress levels may be higher for those in school, and substances are often a default solution. Invest time in fellowshipping with those who know and understand your desire to abstain.
- Stay on top of your stress level – According to studies, 80% of college students are sometimes or often stressed. Awareness of your stress level can indicate that you need to pause, take action, and ask for help. The same studies suggest that college students can suffer from depression and anxiety. Stay connected to your support group so that if you find yourself struggling, you can reach out for support.
Continuing education can be an exciting new chapter in your life. Preparedness, realistic objectives, and a strong support network can help you achieve your goals. Take the steps you need for success and feel confident chasing the life you dream of.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.