Relapsing in College

College is a transition that can bring on many changes, good and bad. Sometimes the stress builds up, and then person can relapse. This is understandable. The routine of college changes everything about your life, and little remains the same as you were in high school. When too many stressors occur at once, the chance of relapse rises.

In college, relapses can be hard to face. There is a set routine of work, class, fun, and sleep that is needed to function. But then that relapse happens, and it’s exhausting to even go through the motions. So you just give up, and fall behind in every aspect.

Well, there are a few things you can do to get back on track.

  1. Be Open and Honest

Having social support is key in recovery. Why go through it alone when others can be there to help? It doesn’t make you a burden if you need extra support from people. More than likely, people would understand. It helps if you define what you need from people, such as saying “I feel ___ and it would help me if you do ___.”

If academically you are falling behind, reach out to your professors. There is no need to tell them everything, but most professors are willing to help. Hell, most of them are in the job because they like working with young adults, thus they have a bit of compassion. Luckily, my professors were very flexible with me. Test the waters with your professors, and maybe they can help too. If not, you get the realization that you may need to put some extra effort into this class.

Although the people of this world may same terrible, there are some good people too. I may be a bit of a misanthropist, but I am an optimistic one.

  1.  Compromise

With a relapse it is tempting to be consumed by it until there is room for little else in your life. It is so easy to fall apart, and difficult to stay together. I myself would alternate between hours absorbed into addiction, over-exercising because of anorexia, or sleeping to escape depression. Naturally I fell out of school activities, and didn’t put as much effort into doing schoolwork. I never showed up for classes either, which caused me to nearly fail a couple. It wrecked a lot of things for me in my freshman and sophomore year.

So what I did was compromise. I told myself if I went to my three classes that day, for under three hours total, I would let myself completely and utterly do nothing the afternoon. And after I indulged in nothing, I would do homework for awhile. I did work for about four hours a day, and managed to fix my grades and attendance scores.

  1.   Create a Routine

As much as it sucks, sticking to a routine balanced with work, hobbies, and downtime is essential. Once you lose all your productive time and then invest it into your relapse, it is much harder to recover. Going through the motions can keep you from hitting rock bottom, because at least you are preserving some aspect of your life.

A great idea is to figure out what time during the day you feel your best. For example, I am more productive in the morning and late afternoon. I arrange my hobbies, homework, classes, and errands to be done during that time. During the rest of my day, I do what I can keep functioning in a relapse.

Here’s some extra tips. I would recommend setting a solid bedtime with no compromises. A body needs adequate sleep, with an adult needing between 7-9 hours. There is no excuse to go over or above that if you want to focus on getting better. Set solid meal times, perhaps setting alarms so you don’t forget. The body needs fuel to function. Go to your classes, then do some homework at a specific time. The rest of the day can be spend doing whatever you want.

Getting some things accomplished helps bide time, keeps you from being self-destructive, build resilience, and help low self-esteem. Just do what you can for the day.

  1.  Be Kind to Yourself

Life is stressful. College is stressful. Doing both are extra stressful. Whether you are at rock bottom or treading deep water, give yourself compassion. You are going through a rough time, so give yourself some extra self-care. But this doesn’t mean you neglect being productive and indulging even more into your relapse.


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