If you have been in the throes of addiction and have battled your way back to sobriety, you might be considering going back to school and finally graduating. This can be an intimidating thought and it may even seem like maybe you do not deserve the opportunity, but first recognize that you do deserve to have an education and a future. Understand that your addiction hindered your ability to function, but now that you have practiced ways to manage your addiction, you might be ready to take on the coursework for school. With this new venture will come unique challenges and opportunities for which you will want to be prepared.
Among the most significant challenges of going back to school is being able to overcome internal fear. Addiction is often used to isolate you and manipulate your abilities and sensibilities from forming meaningful relationships with yourself and others. You might worry if you can develop authentic relationships with people—or if you will be accepted. This thought is scary and could hold you back from taking the chance. In addition to feeling uncertain about making meaningful and honest relationships, you might worry that your addiction has stolen away your capacity to maintain the focus and discipline needed to perform under academic pressure and meet the requirements. Understand that while fear is a real and valid concern, it is also just a state of mind.
Many people hold their feelings of doubt inside and allow more time to pass before taking chances. While you should move at your pace to avoid overwhelming yourself, you should always reach out to your support network and be honest and open about your feelings. This expression of vulnerability will allow those that care about you—the people you trust—to help encourage you and even ease your reservations about going back to school.
You might even discover that those in your support network have experienced similar situations and have gone back to school. Learn from their mistakes and successes and discover the approach that will work for you, such as proper study methods and avoiding temptation. If you are in a situation where you are considering going back to school but are feeling doubt, find a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to express this doubt. Also, you can practice mindfulness, meditate, or write to bring you closer to your feelings and discover why you feel this way.
Take Things Slow
Much like recovery, going back to school will be a process that will take time, planning, and effort to accomplish. Sometimes beginning with one or two classes instead of a full course load is an excellent way to transition into becoming a student again. This is not only true for those in addiction recovery but for those who have been absent from school for many years, so don’t feel like you are singling yourself out just because you are in recovery.
Just because you might be older does not mean you cannot make meaningful relationships and get involved on campus to get the most out of school. One of the greatest regrets most people have was not doing enough extracurricular activities when they were in school, so much so that they often think about what they might have done differently if given the chance. You have the opportunity now to consider this sentiment when evaluating your approach to how you want to get the most out of school. Ask yourself: What you did not do before and what you might want to do now?
Many campuses offer groups to get together with others who manage sobriety and are coming back to school. If you are worried about becoming involved, a sobriety group might help form bonds and provide encouragement to pursue other activities together. Remember, don’t ever feel isolated or hopeless; there are plenty of options and opportunities for you to get the experience you deserve.
The pursuit of education should be perceived as a personal goal and accomplishment for you and should be done to help better your future and recovery. You are doing this for you. Never go out of your way to prove to someone who you are, you know who you are and what you have been through and, if you are managing recovery, then that is a win for you. Finishing school is a goal to reach because you want to, which means there is no time limit and so long as you keep progressing, you are always right where you need to be.
While you might worry that you will never get to live the “college experience,” like frat parties, bar crawls, and all-around overindulgence, understand that this is no experience at all—this is not college, this is merely a stereotype of what college is. Understand that your sobriety will offer you a better experience because you will be focused on getting the most out of what college can offer academically, socially, professionally, and personally. These bonds will carry further than bonds made by partying can. If the pressures of returning to school are proving hard to overcome and you are considering returning to a life of drinking and using drugs because it seems more natural, understand that it will only create more problems and you need help now.
True Recovery offers 24/7 care that is designed to meet the unique needs of the individual. True Recovery will seek the correct treatment for you to help manage your addiction, maintain sobriety, or even encourage you to go back to school. You have waited and struggled long enough, don’t wait any longer; call us today at (866) 399-6528.