1. Consider the Alternatives
In the not-too-distant past, most people assumed that higher education equaled a four-year college degree. Fortunately, there are many realistic alternatives to college just waiting to be explored. From volunteering at home or abroad to starting a business, experiential learning offers the kind of hands-on knowledge that pays immediate dividends. A recovering addict may have spent years detached from reality. Exploring the possibilities outside of college can be liberating and exciting, allowing for the kind of self-awareness that leads to a fulfilling life.
2. Take Classes Online
In today’s digital age, knowledge is literally a click away. Whether taking classes for credit or simply out of curiosity, people can find high-quality courses at low or no cost online. Being able to study from the privacy of home is a huge advantage for addicts who aren’t yet ready to face social situations. Choosing the best online course involves understanding one’s own personal learning style and matching it with one of the many available offerings. There are options that offer real-time virtual classes and others that are on-demand. Some are single-session classes while others follow a traditional college semester. For a self-motivated learner, online classes could be a great choice.
3. Attend a Community College
At some point along the recovery path, a student might feel ready to physically attend classes. An excellent starting point is the local community college. Generally much less expensive and more personalized than a university, community colleges offer two-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree or certification in a particular field. The graduate can then decide whether to transfer those credits on to a four-year school or enter the workforce.
4. Learn a Trade or Skill
Some of the highest-paying and most in-demand jobs are in skilled trades, such as electrician and plumber. Attending classes through a trade or vocational school and then passing the certification or licensing exam takes much less time and money than obtaining a four-year degree. Learning and practicing these important skills requires intense focus, which can help divert the recovering addict’s attention from potentially harmful triggers.
5. Study Safely on Campus
Some career goals can only be reached by completing a four-year degree at an on-campus school. In that case, the recovering addict can successfully navigate the experience through careful planning and intentional decisions. One of the most important steps is to develop a supportive network. Joining campus recovery groups and participating in sober student activities will help develop friendships and solidify the commitment to sobriety. If living on campus, the recovering addict should research whether there are substance-free housing options and, if not, try to find roommates who are also pursuing an addiction-free lifestyle. Most colleges offer counseling services, which can be immensely helpful in maintaining mental health.
Selecting the right educational plan is important for everyone but especially for someone in recovery. Because stress and negativity lead to increased risk for relapse, a recovering addict must be honest and thorough in determining the best course. Fortunately, by fitting the program to the individual, it is possible to both maintain sobriety and achieve educational success.