Going Back To School In Recovery: What To Avoid

27. April 2016

For the person in recovery, life is full of possibilities. For years, active addiction took center stage, hindering growth and progress. Free from this, the recovering individual has the opportunity to pursue dreams, develop hobbies, learn new skills and build the life of their choosing.

Many of those in recovery may choose to pursue education. Going back to school is an exciting prospect, and many choose to finish the education that they started years ago, or to begin the journey to higher education for the first time.

People who are unfamiliar with recovery and still hold on to old stereotypes of addiction may be surprised to learn that many addicts, once they’ve found recovery, go on to do amazing things with their lives. Recovering addicts become lawyers, nurses, business owners and teachers. Many go into the helping professions, including social work, counseling and addiction treatment.

Balancing Recovery, School And More

While going back to school to build a brighter future for you and your family is a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor, it pays to be cautious when taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Recovering addicts are often eager to move forward with their lives as quickly as possible. It’s understandable — for some, years and years have been spent in the midst of addiction, and it’s common to feel as though you need to make up for lost time.

Recovering addicts are also intelligent people, and once they have left active addiction behind and done some healing, they often surprise themselves by just how driven, motivated and successful they can be.

It’s important to be aware that taking on too much can be detrimental, though. Life is a balancing act for most people. You have to have time for things like eating, sleeping and working. You must carve out family time, time for the mundane tasks of life, and time for friends and self-care. And, you have to make time for recovery, as well. Just those things can create a full schedule. Those who have been in recovery for some time know all too well how easily life can unravel when recovery and self-care are neglected, and for most people, those are the first things to go when life gets busy.

School is a major undertaking, and while it is worth the extra time and energy to get that degree or certificate, it is also a potential stressor, and if you aren’t careful you may find you’ve taken on too much. Why is this a problem? Because too many people have taken on more than they can manage, neglected their recovery and risked their sobriety. This may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s very true. Relapse is common in recovery, and is often caused by high levels of stress and inadequate self-care, as well as isolation and lack of support.

Many recovering addicts aren’t just balancing school and recovery. Some are working full-time jobs, or caring for children — or both.

Back To School Tips For The Person In Recovery

If you have made the decision to go to school in recovery, congratulations! This is yet another step forward in life, and you’ve already come so far. Here are some tips to help keep you balanced and keep you surrounded by positive support along your journey.

girls studying in college

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

It’s easy to get excited and take on a full load of classes, complete with hours of homework and high pressured exams, but you’re best to start a little smaller. Don’t give in to the temptation to pile too much on your plate. This is a common problem that people have in recovery, and it causes unnecessary stress that can affect your recovery and just plain wear you out.

If you’ve been out of school for some time, or if you are new in recovery, take a more moderate approach. Maybe even take just one class, or at least avoid a full-time schedule. You want to leave time for things like meetings, plenty of rest, nurturing your friendships and staying focused on your recovery. As you become more comfortable with your schedule, you can add more if you want.

Steer Clear Of Negative Influences

Part of the fun of going back to school is being exposed to new people, thoughts and experiences. This is great, and adds new experiences to your life. It’s important, though, to be vigilant about your recovery. You may run across people who enjoy drinking or recreational drug use. This is common in schools. A lot of people use substances to relax, destress or gain an edge. Stimulant and alcohol use are pretty rampant on many college campuses.

Always keep your recovery in mind, and be sure that you are spending time with people who are clean and sober.

What Can You Do If A Loved One Is Struggling?

It’s not easy watching someone you care about struggle with addiction. You may feel helpless to do anything, especially if they are refusing your help. But you can do something. An intervention is a powerful and effective tool that can help your loved one break through the fear and denial and get the help that they need. A professional intervention is the best way to help not only your loved one, but your whole family. People often don’t realize how effective and successful an intervention can be for their family. Call 1-877-478-4621 to get help today.