Staying Sober on a College Campus
anonymous Asks ...
I am an 18 year old alcoholic and drug addict. I am going to the University of Minnesota this year for Ag science. I almost blew my scholarship after I had a stress breakdown but my guidance counselors smoothed things over and I was able to graduate normally even though I was suspended for drugs in May. My 720/730/760 SATs help me out of a lot of sticky situations… I am going to live in the dorm. They have this welcome week that is supposed to be a big party. I am not sure how I am going to fit in being the guy who can’t party. Should I just tell everyone I am an alcoholic and drug addict or should I only tell people after I get to know them? Should I skip the welcome week? I am worried that I won’t make any friends unless I go out to social events but I am nervous about staying sober. I was going to AA but in my town this means a bunch of people that don’t have a lot of post secondary experience. They say I am not ready for to go away from home - this from a bunch of guys who never left home ever (good guys though). I am worried that they are right but I am not missing my chance.
Jim LaPierre Says ...
Wow - thanks so much for writing - your questions are on point and you're wise to be concerned. Your friends in AA are seeing that you're in a precarious place and that this transition is filled with pitfalls. Ok - so yeah, you're going to college no matter what and good for you! Should you avoid events and socializing that involves partying? Hells yes, you should avoid it like the plague. There are plenty of ways to meet new friends on campus. I'm not gonna sugar coat it - yes, most of them willl be drinking and drugging. Dorm life for those who don't use can be kinda tough - but as hard as that is, it's nothing compared to what addiction can do to your life. I know you know that but it's still a tough thing to accept.
Skip the parties - but get involved in stuff. Hobbies, clubs, causes, intramural sports, organizations - colleges are filled with young people who are trying to discover their true selves and they're seeking outlets to express themselves. Be around people who have similar interests academically and socially and get yourself to local AA meetings immediately.
Find out if your campus has an AA or NA meeting on site (lots of colleges do). If they don't - consider starting one. Get together with people on campus whose job it is to educate and bring attention to the dangers of college partying.
Look - don't take for granted what your guidance counselor did for you - you dodged a bullet but you're not a cat and you don't have 9 lives. Work your ass off, meet quality people and keep investing in yourself!