If you’re back from alcohol treatment and looking to continue your college career, congratulations on making the most important change you’ll ever make! 

You may be wondering how it’s possible to stay sober on the same campus where your old hookups and drinking friends still go to class. 

The hard truth is, it’s not easy to stay sober in an environment that’s full of triggers. If you developed an alcohol problem while going to a party school, then you might find that your old stomping grounds are triggering when you return. 

You can stay sober on the same campus that you left before treatment, but in some cases, you’ll find that it’s easier for you to start fresh at a new school. 

Specifically, a dry campus can allow you to start over without the presence of alcohol being quite so prominent.

33% of all American campuses are dry, which may surprise many college kids in recovery. That means you have options! 

What Makes a Campus Dry?

A dry campus limits alcohol on the premises. That means you can’t have alcohol in your dorms and you can’t have it with you on campus, including: 

  • At campus events, such as parties and festivals
  • In academic buildings, including classes and labs
  • At musical or drama performances

You should assume that you can’t have any alcohol anywhere on campus. Still, students may use alcohol off-campus in most cases. 

A few dry campuses have even stricter rules. For instance, Butler University bans all drinking, whether it’s on-campus or off, and they’re not the only one. You could get suspended or expelled for drinking at your parents’ home or during a school holiday, even if you’re over 21.  

Consider Going Out-of-State

Most dry colleges are in the South or Midwest states, though you can find them elsewhere. That’s most likely because these areas have a higher concentration of religious students, who may want to go to school away from alcohol. 

You may have luck finding a dry campus near you outside of those areas, but your options are likely to be limited. 

Choosing to transfer out-of-state can give you greater options when it comes to choosing a dry campus for recovery. 

The added distance from home can help shake away old feelings and triggers, keeping you in a safer mindset. 

Check Out Religiously-Affiliated Schools

If you’re Christian, consider going to a Christian-affiliated school. You should consider it even if you’re not Christian: many Christian schools do allow people who don’t follow the religion to attend. 

Christian universities are more likely to have a dry campus. That’s because alcohol abuse is seen as against the Christian moral code in many places. 

Some examples of dry campuses that are Christian include: 

  • Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah
  • Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL
  • Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, FL

You may find that Christian schools with dry campuses have more rules and moral codes to follow than a typical campus. Students who are Christian might have an easier time adapting. But even if you’re not Christian, those moral codes can actually help keep you on the right track in recovery.  

Ask About the Party Culture

Just because a campus is dry doesn’t mean the entire school is drug- or alcohol-free. All that means is that you can’t have alcohol on campus, even if you’re over 21. 

A huge part of college life is the party culture off-campus. 

Many students (especially upperclassmen) live off-campus. Colleges can’t police what happens off-campus, so in some cases, it’s normal for students to binge drink at a friend’s apartment downtown before heading to the “dry” Friday night rave. 

Visit the campus you’re thinking about and ask questions, such as: 

  • How common is drinking off-campus?
  • Is there a drinking culture in Greek life here?
  • Do students usually follow the dry campus rules?
  • Is it easy to stay away from alcohol here if I need to?

Many, many dry campuses don’t have an undercover drinking culture. If you don’t find the right one on your first try, then there’s sure to be another less risky one. 

Look for Recovery Resources

Some dry campuses are recovery-focused, too. That means they offer resources to help people who are living in recovery, such as: 

  • Recovery houses: These houses are on-campus apartments that are shared by people in recovery. It can be a huge relief to find out that your roommates are all sober, too!
  • Counseling services: Many college therapy centers or counseling centers have addiction-focused programs for students in recovery.
  • Academic support: If addiction has your schoolwork falling behind, many dry campuses have academic support systems in place to help people who are struggling due to health and personal circumstances.

Look for information about these resources on the college’s website, or ask about them when you’re on a campus tour. 

Looking for Colleges With Dry Campuses? Here’s Where to Start

Having trouble finding dry colleges to research? Some highly-rated colleges with dry campuses include: 

  • Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, GA
  • Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA
  • Milligan College in Milligan College, TN
  • Corban University in Salem, OR

These are only 5 of the dozens of dry campuses across the United States. If you don’t see one that’s close to your geographical area, keep looking (or consider relocating!) 

Your College Education Can Flourish in Recovery

You don’t have to choose between recovery and your education. 

The right college campus can support you through the most formative years of your life: Your first years of recovery, along with your college years. 

If you haven’t already, it’s time to talk to your academic advisor about transferring. They’ll be able to help you transfer all of your records and credits to your new school, as well as provide advice on handling the transition. 

You should also talk to your counselor or whoever is managing your outpatient treatment (or ongoing recovery). They can help you find resources near your new school, whether you need a medication clinic or advice on adjusting to a new daily life. 

With time, your new dry campus will become home. Welcome to college life in recovery! 

Sources:

  1. 25 safest college campuses in America
  2. Wet vs. Dry Campus
  3. Why Banning Hard Alcohol on College Campuses May Not Be the Answer
  4. College rankings: Who’s on the Top 20 sober schools list?
  5. A Systems Approach to College Drinking: Development of a Deterministic Model for Testing Alcohol Control Policies

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