College and Recovery: The Importance of Finding a Sober Peer Community

College and Recovery: The Importance of Finding a Sober Peer Community

For people in recovery, it is critical to find the support and services needed to help you maintain your sobriety

Whether you are in college or looking to get into college, if you are in recovery, it is important for you to find a sober peer community in college. It’s not quite as difficult as you might think as more and more colleges and universities are investing in providing these services to students. To learn more about finding sober peer communities in college, you may want to learn about the increasing need for sober peer communities, what you can expect from these services, and how to find a college or university that provides sober peer communities.

The Need for Sober Peer Communities

Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC is a licensed mental health counselor and author. In her post, Staying Sober is Possible- in College!, she speaks about the need for sober peer communities. She states that research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that there has been a 141.3 percent increase between 1999-2009 of college students ages 18-24 checking into addiction recovery programs in the U.S. Because of this significant increase, many colleges and universities are creating programs to meet the need.

While many colleges and universities are creating programs to respond to a growing population of students who want to maintain their sobriety, there are some gaps in the current services that need to be addressed. In some cases, universities do not offer housing to accommodate those in recovery, so Benton suggests looking at sober living programs targeted for college students or transitional living programs that can help students integrate back to college.

She offers several other suggestions for students in recovery to help them maintain their sobriety including the following:

  • Research appropriate housing options including substance-free dorms, renting an off-campus apartment with other sober peers, having a sober roommate or roommate who respects sobriety, or living with family and commuting to college
  • Connect to your campus counseling center in order to inquire about possible local and/or campus resources that may be helpful
  • Locate and attend mutual-help groups on or near campus
  • Connect with a local addiction therapist
  • Make self-care a priority
  • Find ways to manage stress in a healthy manner
  • Engage in spiritual practices
  • Get involved in extra-curricular activities that may allow for making connections with students who have interests beyond drinking
  • Find balance between academic, extra-curricular, and social commitments
  • Commit to community service activities
  • Explore new activities to engage in that don’t involve drugs or alcohol

It is important to be proactive and ensure that you reduce the risks that are often associated with many college experiences.

About Sober Peer Communities

As increased awareness of addiction has caused an increase in sober peer communities in college, it is important to understand what you can expect from these programs. The post, College ‘Recovery Communities’ Attract Newly Sober Youth provides information about these programs.

At some colleges, services offered in recovery communities typically include the following:

  • 12-Step meetings
  • A sober student hangout with pool tables and study areas
  • Recovery-related courses
  • Academic support
  • Life skills/career support
  • Counseling
  • Drug-free social activities
  • Sober peer mentorship
  • Referrals to aftercare
  • Family support groups

Some universities are going so far as to provide scholarships for students who maintain a certain grade point average as well as their sobriety. The goal of recovery communities is to give people the opportunity to have a traditional college experience and hold onto their hard-won sobriety.

Putting Sobriety on Your College Requirements List

Getting into college is a challenging experience. You do considerable research to find a college that offers the courses that you seek to pursue. You also have to factor in costs, scholarships, student loans, and much more when making the decision about which colleges to apply to. For people in recovery, one of the most critical college requirements is that the university offer services that support your sobriety. In a Wall Street Journal post, Campus Life 101: Staying Sober the author describes several services that a variety of colleges and universities are offering.

At Texas Tech, there are a variety of amenities including a sober-student hangout with study pods, pool tables and 12-Step meetings. In addition, some students receive a yearly scholarship from the university for earning near-perfect grades while staying sober. This model is being emulated by other universities that are offering on-campus clubhouses, recreational opportunities, academic support, and recovery courses.

The Association for Recovery in Higher Education now includes over 20 colleges and universities and is designed to help other colleges employ similar sober peer community programs. The number of students in these programs is consistently increasing and some programs are expecting to serve hundreds of students, not only addicts but also the adult children and siblings of substance abusers.

These programs seem like a win-win for both students and the colleges. Students remain sober, graduate with solid grade-point averages, and the universities keep the tuition they need to support all of their programs and services.

Get Help Learning About Sober Peer Communities

The investment of time and money in college is quite substantial. The investment that you made in your sobriety is even greater. To get the most out of your investment, you want to be sure that you are supported in your recovery while attending college, and we can help. If you or a loved one in California is struggling with addiction recovery, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about sober peer communities.