Adolescence Education Mental Health Recovery

School Is Back In Session!

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Despite the heat, School is back in session, marking the end of the Dog Days of Summer. It’s time to leave the sandy beaches behind and hone in on your academic prowess. If you left school in a state of emotional disarray because of substance abuse, mental illness, or both, this is your opportunity to revamp your experience. Sure, the wreckage of your past will be there, but the opportunity to shift the perspectives of those you encounter is available to you. You can clean up the mess, so to speak. The bigger question is how does one traverse the landscape of school…sober?  Here are some tips:


  • Continue to go to meetings and work with a sponsor: This is your lifeline to sustainability in sobriety. 
  • Join a sober club or start one if there isn’t one already!
  • Make new friends—your using buddies have to go.  You are changing your life for the better: find friends who have the same moral fiber as you.
  • Ask for help. It’s a sign of courage and strength to reach out. If a subject is too hard, or if you have difficulty with a teacher or assignment, advocate for yourself.  Suffering needlessly benefits no one.
  • Get excited about school. Education is the ultimate brain food!
  • Follow your dreams! Going to school is the first step to reaching them. Give it your all!
  • Make your emotional and physical wellness a priority. Meetings, therapy, and self-care: those are all supportive tools. Use them.

While going back to school can be met with apprehension, despair, excitement, joy, and even complacency, meeting those emotions with some compassion and openness can make them easier to work with. Changing your lifestyle, perspectives, and emotional temperature takes effort, but it is well worth it in the end. Choosing to be present and awake for your life is a true gift. Approaching school with curiosity and an open mind will make a difference in your life. Try it!

Adolescence Education Recovery Self-Care

It’s Cool to Go Back to School: Sober

As summer fades, we begin to feel the pull of school and all that it entails. Walking into any store right now will confirm this, hook, line and sinker. Target has their entire back section stocked to the brim with back to school supplies. Seriously. It’s happening right now and we can’t avoid it. It’s time to wipe the sand from beneath our feet and get ready to rock our backpacks once again.

Often, the dilemma for those who got sober or stayed sober through the summer break is this:  How do we navigate going back to school without getting sucked into the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol, or stress and anxiety, or all of the above? Is it even plausible to keep our old friends or is moving on safer? Will we still be hip or cool now that the crutch of a bottle or a pocket full of pills has been removed? For some, yes, it’s possible to go back into those spaces without falling down, for others, perhaps not. The answers to these questions are really contingent on the individual. Just as addiction and mental health don’t fit into a one-size-fits-all category, neither does recovery. There are definitely some suggestions that might help you find the way to your own answers and help you get back to school using a safe, sober strategy.

  • Make sure you are going to meetings. Now, more than ever, you will need the security and support of a recovery community.
  • Do you have a sponsor? If not, get one, stat. If you do have one, make sure you continue to work with him or her and continue to check in on a regular basis.
  • Ask your school advisor or counselor if there are any sober clubs or groups at your school. You are more than likely not alone in your recovery.
  • If there isn’t a sober group or club at school, start one!
  • Make new friends. Some of your old ones may, in fact, have to go. It’s for the best anyway. You are on a new path now.
  • Stay connected. There’s nothing worse than finding oneself in a situation where you feel emotionally alone and unsupported.
  • Ask for help–no matter what. It is not a sign of strength to suck it up; it’s a sign of strength to ask for help. (Took me forever to “get” this one!)
  • Get excited about school and about learning in general. You are feeding your brain, after all.
  • Make school your full-time job, in other words, give it 100% of your energy.
  • Keep your sobriety your priority and make school your driving force.

Don’t forget to have fun! Life is so much better when you have a sense of humor.


Back to School: Let’s Get This Party Started!

School has started, though the remnants of the Summer heat are still lingering about. It’s also prime time for the first of many anticipated school parties! For the newly sober, and even for those with a little time under their belts, this might be a source of contention or stress. So, how DO you participate while staying safe and sober?
For starters:
  • Bring a friend with you that has your best interests in mind. In other words, someone who isn’t on the fence about you being clean and sober! 
  • Arrange for your own transportation so you don’t have to rely on someone else if you want to make a quick exit. 
  • Have a plan, and give yourself an out so you don’t get stuck in a bad situation.
  • Call your sponsor and let your sober network know what you’re doing: Share your plan!
  • Communicate with your parents and let them know what’s going on.
  • Concerned there won’t be any non-alcoholic beverages? Bring your own! 
The trouble with school parties is, often times they’re organized with this idea that getting wasted is the end goal (I’m reminded of Superbad here, despite it’s over-the-top depiction of adolescence!). If a school party falls into your weekend plans, go with a good head on your shoulders and a positive plan of action. Walking a sober path is a learned skill, but it’s not impossible. It takes time to develop positive patterns of behavior while still maintaining our social status amongst our peers. Sometimes, it’s a matter of educating those around us; sometimes it’s about walking away and starting anew.

Sobriety will teach you that fun doesn’t have to include a blackout and a night praying to the porcelain God. Nor does it have to include glib confirmations of the night’s events from friends the next day. Eventually, taking responsibility for your actions will be the de rigueur choice rather than fighting to maintain an old ideal. At some point, you might even discover that you are pretty darn fun all on your own, even whilst pumped up on silliness with a water chaser. 
Education Recovery

School: Getting Back in the Groove

Even without addiction issues, going back to school can be a bear. Going from middle school to high school is a huge shift, but more often than not, you’re not away from home. However, the shift from high school to college can be huge, especially if going to college means living on your own. All of a sudden the safety of any parental input (no matter how annoying it may be) is gone–trust me when I say this, you’ll eventually miss the family dinners you fought so hard to get out of.
There are a few things to keep in mind when going back to school, particularly when most schools and colleges are starting and our nerves are shaking. If we’re newly sober, then the heat is really on, particularly when we’re going back to our old stomping grounds.
  • Stay connected with your sponsor and others in sobriety. 
  • Set firm boundaries with old friends that may be weary of the new you. If they want you to “hang out” like you used to before you “went away,” say no. Real friends won’t try to drag you down. 
  • Maintain open communication, not only with your sponsor and friends, but with your parents and therapists as well. Recovery is a net: if you weave a wide enough web, you are more apt to create an environment of emotional and physical safety. 
  • Develop a healthy exercise program. Sometimes, a good run or a long bike ride can clear a muddled mind. This is a great area to create a buddy system. If you don’t do it one day, you didn’t fail! 
  • Make realistic goals. You don’t have to do everything at once. 
  • Remember to be kind to your body: just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you can start poisoning your system with junk food. 
  • HALT: never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired 
  • Show up no matter what. You’re not only showing up for others, you’re showing up for yourself and your sobriety.
The reality is, school can be frightening: the newness, the change, and the idea of venturing into the unknown. Taking things one breathe at a time is key to survival. Sleep is your friend, cry if you need to, and ask for help. Everything is going to be okay!Resources:
Angels at Risk
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