If you’re in college and have an addiction problem, you’re probably wondering what resources are around to help you. The same is true if you’re returning to college after a stint in rehab. 

College is a triggering place to be when you’re in recovery. On many campuses, there’s an air of acceptance around substance use, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. 

As a student in recovery, you might not feel safe or like you belong. But you don’t have to feel like an outsider on your own campus. Instead, you should check out the support you can get without even leaving school. 

Today, most college campuses have resources available for students living with substance use disorder (SUD).

Those resources include: 

  • 12 Step programs
  • Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs)
  • Substance-free housing
  • Drug- and alcohol-free events and social opportunities
  • Counseling and therapy with a SUD focus
  • Educational campaigns about SUD

As a result, many campuses are a friendly place for students in recovery. Social and community support are both important in recovery, and there’s no shortage of it at college. 

You don’t have to choose a dry campus to have a smooth recovery in college. Many students in recovery go on to have successful, rewarding experiences at school and beyond. Your college will help you benefit from the addiction resources they offer. 

Here’s what you should know about each kind of campus addiction resource: 

Campus 12-Step Programs

Many colleges sponsor their own 12 Step programs, which include: 

  • 12 Steps
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous

Less common groups include Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Adult Children of Alcoholics Anonymous. You might not find these groups on campus, but if one applies to you, your campus can direct you to a local chapter. 

12 Steps and its sister programs are based on guiding principles and traditions, which include admitting your powerlessness over substances and more. 

In a 12 Step program, you may receive a sponsor. A sponsor is a person who has experience in recovery. They act as a resource and source of support for the sponsee. People who engage in 12 Steps build strong relationships with each other, which can help lessen the sense of stigma and strengthen your recovery. 

Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs)

Collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) are increasingly common on campuses. These programs offer dedicated community support for students with SUD. 

Each CRP is different, but the amenities may include: 

  • Community housing in the form of a sober townhouse or dorm. 
  • Sober activities as a community, such as retreats, game days, or spring break trips. 
  • Counseling and therapy services, which are tailored to recovery. 
  • Access to resident assistants (RAs) who have experience in recovery and experience living in a sober house. 

The biggest benefit of choosing a CRP is that all of your community members are on the same page as you. People in a CRP rally around each other and encourage recovery. Hanging out with people who don’t have SUD can be tough when you’re in recovery, even if they’re being sensitive about your history.  

Most CRPs are discreet. There won’t be a sign outside announcing that it’s a sober house, which may add to your peace of mind and lessen stigma. 

Alcohol- and Drug-Free Housing

If you live on campus, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to stay away from triggers in recovery. Many colleges are now offering substance-free housing options, including townhouses and even entire drug-free dorms. 

Some CRPs include housing when you participate, so be sure to ask your program coordinator for details. Staying in a recovery house usually means committing to a CRP, which may include services like: 

  • Clinical support
  • Specialized counseling
  • Tutoring, financial aid, and other academic services
  • Built-in community with other students in recovery

A CRP house is the most recovery-friendly housing option you’ll find on campus. If your school has a CRP, you should consider participating in their housing program. 

Substance-Free Events and Social Hubs

It’s hard to participate in college life if you’re constantly worried about being triggered. Being at a party can be nerve-wracking if you’re subconsciously listening to drink orders at the bar or thinking about what drugs people are using in the bathroom. 

It’s normal to avoid all mention of substances if you’re in the early stages of recovery. In fact, some people try to avoid wet events no matter how long they’ve been in recovery. It’s healthy to stay away from your triggers, but it can be hard at college. 

The good news is, many colleges offer dry events and dry opportunities to socialize for students who are in recovery. 

They might include: 

  • An alcohol-free coffeehouse for intellectual discussion without the temptation.
  • Sober raves at the campus nightclub. 
  • Recovery clubs to build community with likeminded people.
  • Recovery-focused activities like hiking, yoga, and sports outings. 

These are places where you can let your guard down a little more because you can be somewhat sure that your peers won’t be name-dropping your drug of choice. The events are usually open to the public and substance-free. They might be sponsored by a school recovery program. 

Addiction-Specific Counseling

All colleges have counseling centers, and many of them offer counseling for substance use disorder. 

Counseling is an important part of recovery because it helps you with: 

  • Understanding why you use substances
  • Taking control of your behavior
  • Expressing your emotions in a healthy way

All of these are critical parts of long-term recovery. Any counselor can help you, but it’s natural to prefer a counselor who has experience with SUD. 

A SUD counselor may have personal and professional experience in recovery. You may feel more comfortable discussing your issues at length with them. If you’re talking to someone who’s never been up close with SUD, you could feel inhibited. 

Most counseling centers offer walk-ins, so you can inquire about help without making an appointment. This is helpful for college kids with busy schedules, who may find it hard to work counseling into their day. 

Your counseling center isn’t the only place you’ll find SUD help. The campus CRP may have SUD counselors available. If so, you’ll most likely need to be a member of the CRP to partake. Contact your local CRP coordinator to learn what resources are available. 

Drug and Alcohol Education

Campuses are safer when everyone knows how much damage substance use disorders can cause in colleges. Education is a support resource that helps make the campus a safer place to recover. 

A great campaign for drug and alcohol awareness may include education about: 

  • Binge drinking, which affects college students more than the general population. 
  • Naloxone access, which can mean the difference between life and death in an overdose. 
  • Good Samaritan law, which makes it possible to call 911 when someone is overdosing without getting in legal trouble. 
  • Recognizing SUD in yourself or a roommate, friend or classmate. 
  • What to do if you or someone you know at college is struggling with SUD. 

That education may take the form of:

  • First-year programs to teach freshmen about the dangers before they fall victim to SUD.
  • Guest lectures by speakers who are experts on SUD and recovery. 
  • Campus-wide activities that raise awareness of SUD.
  • Posters and bulletins in dorms with facts, stats, and recovery tips.

Find Your Campus Addiction Resources

If you’re not sure where to find college addiction resources on your campus, you should talk to your academic advisor. They’ll be able to help you locate the right resources for your situation. 

You can also talk to the campus counseling center, whether you’re currently a client or not. Most counseling centers allow walk-ins, so you can drop by and ask about SUD resources for students in recovery. 

Addiction doesn’t have to derail your college career. When you take advantage of the support that’s available to you, you’re taking back your college life and more. Recovery is a gift that will follow you long after college is over, so take the time to invest in it now.

Sources:

  1. Supporting Students in Recovery on College Campuses: Opportunities for Student Affairs Professionals
  2. After decades of letting students with addictions fend for themselves, colleges are starting to help
  3. A growing number of sober programs support college students recovering from addiction

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