Your first semester back at college after entering recovery can be an exciting, rewarding time. But it isn’t without challenges. A high level of support both on and off campus is essential for ongoing success, and enjoying your college experience without drugs or alcohol is a major priority. Here are some tips to help you ace your first semester back at college.
Engage with a support group daily.
People who engage in a 12-step program in recovery are twice as likely as those who don’t to stay sober for the long-term.1 A support group keeps you honest and accountable. Daily meetings help you stay motivated and mindful in recovery throughout the day, and they help you resolve or work through issues as they come up.
Find ways to relax and have fun.
Fun and relaxation are an important part of life, and they’re crucial for successful recovery. Relaxing and having fun without drugs or alcohol improves your quality of life and helps strengthen your recovery. Join an academic group or sports team, or get involved in a campus philanthropic group. Invite non-using friends to join you in an activity you enjoy, and stay open to trying new things with new friends.
Develop friendships with others who are sober or in recovery.
Having a sober support system and non-using friends to hang out with during your first semester back helps you stay sober for the long-term. You can meet people through a campus support group, extracurricular activities, church or work.
Stay busy your first semester back.
Boredom is a major factor for relapse. Staying busy keeps your mind off of using, and it makes you feel productive, which can help improve your self-confidence and your determination to abstain. You can stay busy by joining a club, working or volunteering, fully engaging with your classwork and having non-using friends to hang out with.
Take good care of yourself.
Good self-care is extremely important for preventing relapse, and in fact, it’s one of the Five Rules of Recovery, according to an article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.2 Eat healthy food, exercise every day and get plenty of sleep. Stay mindful of your moods, thoughts and attitudes, and keep your stress levels down.
Ask for help when you need it during your first semester.
Recovery has its ups and downs, and you will likely experience rough waters every now and then. When you do, ask for help. Talk to your support group about what you’re going through. Reach out to a sponsor, therapist or supportive friend or family member to help you get through difficult times. Support is essential for successful recovery, especially in the early weeks and months. Asking for help when you need it can help you get back on track quickly and prevent a slip-up or relapse.
Meditate each day.
Meditation has been shown through a large body of research to be highly effective for improving mindfulness and reducing stress, both of which are powerful deterrents for relapse. Spend 15 to 30 minutes in meditation each day to maintain mental clarity and help your mind and body respond to external stressors in healthier ways.
Your first semester back at college can be an exciting time of growth as you put the skills and strategies you learned in treatment to work in the real world. Take good care of yourself, have fun and enjoy life and ask for help when you need a little extra motivation to stay on the road to long-term recovery.