Owning Your Sobriety as a College Student

Contributor:  Lisa Hatten, Business Development at Solid Landings Behavioral Health

female-702961_1280Whether you started your journey of sobriety during high school (or even earlier), or whether you, like many students, became overwhelmed by the freedom of your first year away from home, you have already made one of the most difficult, most responsible decisions you can make: to get—and stay—sober.

Sobriety Takes Commitment

In today’s society, where so many social gatherings revolve around drinking, maintaining your commitment to sobriety is an everyday challenge.  So it can be easy to be daunted by the thought of staying sober in college, where it seems like every activity involves drinking and binge drinking seems prevalent.

Make no mistake: owning your sobriety as a college student will be challenging and sometimes discouraging, and you will face temptations and the possibility of relapse.  Maintaining your sobriety as a student will take strength, courage, determination, and a daily re-commitment to the goals and dreams that brought you into sobriety to begin with.  But you have already proven that you have the tools you need to face the temptations and challenges college life presents, and own your sobriety in the face of whatever life throws your way during this challenging, exciting time.

As you think about staying sober on campus, it may be helpful to remember a few critical things:

Not all college students drink!

happy students giving high five at schoolGiven the number of news stories about the rise of binge drinking on college campuses today, it can be easy to forget that not everyone drinks heavily, or even at all, during college.  And statistics are also showing that an increasing number of students recognize the problems associated with binge drinking and overindulgence, and are taking the necessary steps to change their lifestyle.  The bottom line: chances are, you are not alone in your commitment to owning your sobriety.

There is a support group nearby.

Whether you are moving to a new location or sticking close to home, there is a support group nearby.

You already know the importance of remaining in close contact with other recovering alcoholics who can provide needed support and guidance when temptation is close.  Many colleges and universities have started recovery groups on campus; however, if necessary, find one off-campus and be sure to attend meetings regularly.

If the demographic of the closest meeting doesn’t feel comfortable for you, research additional groups a little further afield, and you are sure to find one more closely suited to you.

If your college or university doesn’t have an on-campus recovery group, consider starting one yourself.  Researching what it will take to get university approval and support will give you a worthwhile task while helping you maintain your own sobriety, and will give you a chance to meet other students like yourself who may also be finding sobriety challenging!

Not all social activities revolve around drinking.

descent-841413_640If your former life revolved around drinking and partying, you may not realize just how many activities there are that don’t involve drinking.  You may need to try one or more before you discover the one that is right for you, and you may need to try a couple more than once before you really find out just how much you enjoy it.  Become a fitness buff, take delight in off-campus activities such as skiing, hiking, and (alcohol-free) road trips with friends, or develop career and leadership skills by joining the school newspaper or student government.  All of these and more can help you explore new interests and meet new friends at the same time.

You can always organize your own, non-alcoholic get-togethers as well.  Movie nights in the dorm, alcohol-free theme dances, and game nights.  All it takes is some imagination, some effort to spread the word, and a commitment to the ground rules (“alcohol- and substance-free, please”), but you will be surprised at how many people are interested and how much fun you can have!

It is possible (for some) to enjoy the party life while staying sober.

concert-768722_640Some people may need to stay away from alcohol entirely to avoid the potential for relapse.  But for others, it may be possible to join in the fun while still maintaining your commitment to sobriety.  Tips for enjoying the party scene while staying sober include:

  • Always have a non-alcoholic drink in your hand
  • Volunteer to be the designated driver
  • Let yourself dance, play pranks, and be foolish – remember, no one else will notice!

If you don’t make a big deal out of the fact that you’re not drinking, chances are that most other students won’t care and may not even notice that you aren’t drinking yourself!

You can earn money instead of spending it on booze.

Sometimes staying busy is the easiest way to avoid temptation.  Whether you find a job on campus or off or perhaps pursue a career-related internship, getting a job can quickly fill up your free time, help you explore career opportunities, build your resume, and earn a little money as well.

By owning your sobriety as a college student, you are taking charge of your future!

student-849822_640The purpose of going to college is to get an advanced degree that will enhance your career prospects, increase your salary, and help you live the successful, happy life you want.  By resisting the temptation to drink away your college years and instead choosing to remain sober in college, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of success both now and in the future.  Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the opportunity given to you and make the most of it by committing yourself to studying hard and succeeding!

By making the responsible, adult choice to use your time in college wisely, you are not only committing yourself to overcoming the pain and hardship that brought you to sobriety in the first place, but you are giving yourself the opportunity to truly become the person you want to be.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you or a loved one struggled with addiction in college? What steps were taken to achieve sobriety?  What worked well and what didn’t?

About the Author

Lisa Hatten photoI’m dedicated to helping men and woman find the specialized help they need to break free from the vicious cycle of addition.  I believe, Solid Landings is the place that can set you free! Call US TODAY! 863-271-0304  Please mention you saw us on Addiction Hope.

–Lisa Hatten


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders.  These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.  We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.  

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 13, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com