Building Your Support Network While in College

Sober Networking

Recovering from an addiction is challenging, especially early on, when developing new lifestyle habits and learning new skills for coping with triggers like stress and cravings. A strong support network is one of the pillars of successful recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and this is particularly true for college students in recovery.

Recovery is a process of change, facilitated by healthy relationships and a support network that provides friendship, hope, and emotional support. Without a strong network of supportive people in your life, it’s easy to fall prey to feelings of loneliness and isolation. These emotions can quickly lead to relapse.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that many college students between the ages of 18 and 24 report drinking in the past month, and two-thirds report binge drinking during that time. However, finding a support network on campus isn’t difficult, if you know where to look.

Here are some tips for building a sober support network in college that will help you get through college with your sobriety intact, and will make your college experience fun, productive, and worth reminiscing about well into old age.

Look for a Collegiate Recovery Program

Many campuses offer collegiate recovery programs, or CRPs, which are composed of students in recovery. These groups provide structure, support, education, and community. CRPs employ professionals who are trained to support students in recovery. They help promote the well-being, health, and happiness of students within the CRP community.

CRPs offer a variety of services for their members, including:

  • Sober study and socializing spaces.
  • Sober events and activities.
  • Recovery support meetings.
  • Peer mentorship programs.
  • Roommate-matching services.
  • Sober living environments.

The Association of Recovery in Higher Education, ARHE, is the association that represents CRPs, and you can find a list of campuses with CRPs on the ARHE website.

Join a Campus Support Group

If your campus doesn’t have a CRP, chances are, it has a variety of recovery support groups available, including campus AA meetings, SMART Recovery groups and other peer support groups. Check with your student services department or visit your preferred support group’s website to see if campus meetings are listed. Similar to CRPs, peer support groups offer opportunities for developing friendships with other non-users, engaging in fun sober activities, and helping others in recovery navigate the college experience in sobriety.

Live in a Sober Community

An increasing number of college campuses are offering sober living residence halls for recovering students or for those who prefer to remain abstinent in college. These residences provide sober communities where students can develop a support network and forge healthy friendships with other sober students. They also offer a variety of events and activities to keep students fully immersed and engaged in a sober college experience.

If your campus doesn’t have sober living facilities, it may be possible to request a sober roommate. Check with the campus housing department to see what kinds of living arrangements your college offers for sober students.

Engage in Extracurricular Activities

Most colleges have hundreds of opportunities for student involvement on campus. Although these aren’t specifically for sober students, these groups are generally populated with students who have similar interests, and they offer the opportunity to engage in activities that aren’t built around drinking. Intramural sports teams, outdoor adventure groups, faith communities, volunteer organizations and academic clubs are just some of the many opportunities for developing a support network in college.

It’s entirely possible to have a rich, rewarding experience in college without using drugs or alcohol, and a strong support network can help make it happen. You just have to know where to look and take the initiative to engage with the sober community on your campus.

If you are struggling with addiction in Long Beach and don’t know where to turn, Roots Through Recovery can help. We offer drug rehab in Long Beach as well as sober living options. Visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.

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