Whether you are returning to school after a long hiatus and rehab or just simply heading back after spending your summer in addiction treatment, returning to school and all of its demands can be an extremely difficult aspect of your journey to recovery.
Before we go any further it is very important that you realize that what you are doing is both brave and intelligent. Finishing highschool, graduating from college, or pursuing an advanced degree are all great investments in your future, especially when living a life of recovery. Despite this fact you will certainly be faced with some difficulties.
Difficulties of Returning to School
What you are doing is important to you and it is the correct thing to do, unfortunately it will not always feel that straightforward and simple.
Depending on your age the people around you who do not understand the nuance and difficulty of your journey will respond in different ways. If you are finishing highschool as a teenager then you will have to deal with nasty rumors and young people who take out their own insecurities by praying on yours. Meanwhile, heading back to highschool as someone in their 20’s or 30’s presents its own unique journey of awkwardness that can lead you to feeling left out and isolated.
Unlike highschool you will not know everyone at your college of choice, and they will generally be more open minded about people that are on different life paths then them. This means you will have a more comfortable time returning to school as someone who may be older than the average college student.
If you are of a classic college student age you will be accepted but it will also mean that you are venturing out into a social world with no rules shortly after embarking on a new journey. This can cause problems in your newfound life, but it can also be overcome if you are diligent.
While these issues present a barrier to entry it is still possible to return to school, get your degree or degrees, and continue to enhance your life during a life of recovery.
Determine That You Are Ready
Whether you have been thinking about heading back to school for some time now, or if the idea had just popped into your head, it is time to make sure that you are ready for the unique challenges going back to school present. You must ensure you are comfortable and confident enough in your sobriety to challenge yourself with learning.
Unfortunately being “ready” looks different for everyone so there is not a cut and dry moment that will present itself, in the end you are taking a risk that presents plenty of rewards.
To reach this point you must look at school locations and styles that will help you best achieve your desired degree or degrees. Highschool can be taken online or in person, community colleges offer a cheaper alternative to major universities, and trade schools can provide a shorter and more inexpensive way to earn more money in the future. All of these options have positive and negative attributes and it is up to you to determine which one best fits your goals and journey.
When you reach a point where you feel like you can balance your school work with your day job (if applicable) while still having time to maintain your sobriety then it is time to head to school.
Define a Support System
Defining your support system will be a huge benefit to your journey of sobriety. Sometimes you will have to change towns to go back to school, meaning you will be separated from your current support system both personal and professional. If you aren’t changing towns it will be easier to continue to rely on and grow with your current support systems.
If you do find yourself changing locations then it is pertinent that you set up a professional contact in your new town before you get there. Change can be a trigger for many people so having that professional support system, whether it is a group or an individual therapist, is extremely beneficial to the new chapter in your journey.
From there you can use that professional contact or your own social life to identify individuals who could provide a personal support system away from home. This part of developing a support system is more complex, but will become clear to you as you meet more people.
Goals always help you track your progress and work towards a finish line, two things that are important when going through a life of sobriety, and while working towards a degree. While the obvious goal is to graduate and acquire the degree you want, it can be helpful to identify shorter term benchmarks.
These benchmarks will reassure you that the hard work you are doing in your life of sobriety is getting you closer to the better life you desire. Setting goals every semester like maintaining attendance, getting a certain number of A’s, or joining one extra curricular activity are all great goals to try.
Going Back To School After Rehab Or After Addiction Treatment
No matter where you were in your life when you seeked help for your addiction, with either rehab or treatment, it is almost always beneficial to go back to school. Despite the obvious benefits, returning to school also presents unique challenges. To combat these challenges you must wait to return to school until you are ready, make a good choice on what school you attend, and make sure to stay in touch with your support systems.
Don’t let fear prevent you from returning to school, you have already made a huge change in your life for the better and returning to school often presents that next big step that can help you achieve everything you want to achieve.