Taking a Leave of Absence from College for Drug Recovery

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

lecture-hall-347316_1280College students today face pressures in multiple ways, including socially, academically, physically, and more.  For a college student who may be struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the added pressure of being successfully through college while dealing with the effects of addiction can be quite the battle.  However a student may have come to use drugs or alcohol, if habits and behaviors become out of hand and compromise health and wellness, it may be necessary to receive treatment and care.

College Struggles

female-702961_1280Many students continue to work through the demands of college in spite of many challenges, whether it is lack of sleep, sickness, lack of resources or finances, and more.  However, when a student struggling with addiction begins to experience a compromise in mental and physical health, becomes a danger to self or others, or is unable to successfully meet their responsibilities that come with college, professional intervention may be warranted.

As a college student, it can be unfathomable to take a leave of absence.  Many students who are in a rigorous academic program or participating in a collegiate sport may feel even more pressure to stay at school, even while facing severe physical and emotional consequences from an addiction.  When the college life has become a new way of living, leaving the community that has become home can make the decision to take a leave of absence even more painful.

Long Term Recovery is Necessary for Success

library-869061_1280In these types of situations, it is important to analyze the whole picture and understand what would be most helpful for long-term recovery.  If you are a college student who is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can only get so far before circumstances in your life will begin to unravel out of control.  Perhaps you feel as though you can manage any symptoms you are feeling enough to continue with your schedule and normal activities.  However, this can only continue for so long before you begin to find yourself struggling through even basic daily tasks.

Even if you feel as though you are maintaining a “normal” life while under the influence of drugs, your cognition, mental and physical abilities have likely been severely compromised.  This begs the question, what are you really comprehending in classes, how much are you truly engaged in relationships and friendships, what are you able to retain and give when dealing with an addiction?  While you may feel like things can be managed, the severity of what you are experiencing from addiction is likely far more intense than what you can grasp.

College Can Wait

view-788378_640The good news is that college will always be there, and taking a leave of absence for treatment can help support your health, wellness, and longevity in both the long and short term.  Persisting in addiction behaviors will only strip you of everything that is important to you, including college dreams, aspirations, hopes, and your health.  In order to prevent this from happening, it is necessary to treat the addiction as soon as possible and seek out intervention as needed for help and support.

If you are in need of treatment for an addiction as a college student, work with your campus wellness center to figure out what might be the best approach for you.  Your academic counselors can also help you figure out the logistics of your classes with taking a leave of absence.  By addressing your addiction and taking time off for professional help, you will find yourself returning to school with greater clarity, drive, and motivation.  Living without the burden of an addiction to drugs or alcohol will allow you to truly thrive in everything you do and find the freedom that you are looking for.  Take the steps you need today to get the appropriate help and care you need while in college.


Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What resources are available on your college campus that can help support a leave of absence?  If you are a college student, what other resources are helpful to the campus community and for students who may be struggling with an addiction?


Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 24, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com