Two UGA students “sat down” with me for a conversation around their personal journeys. They offered their wisdom and wit in navigating life as students who took time off from their roles here at UGA and decided to return, after receiving treatment and support for their addiction(s) elsewhere. Our hope is that what they share can resonate, encourage, challenge and educate our UGA community around the experience of seeking success and growth, while holding tight to their convictions and choices of sobriety.
(They are featured as Student A and Student B to respect their desire for anonymity.)
What factors played into your decision to return to UGA?
Student A: I wanted to be able to pair my career as a yoga teacher with something more lucrative so I can afford to own a home or PS5 someday.
Student B: I had made a lot of progress during my time off, not only in my sobriety but as a person in general. I addressed the core issues, broke many bad habits, and started developing healthier ones. I have always been very academically-oriented, and I also tend to do well with structure. Though I needed to step away from school to get sober initially, I felt like going back to UGA to continue my degree and figure out my new “normal” was the best next step for me after getting back on my feet. I knew I had a great support network that I could rely on in case of a crisis, which was reassuring as well.
How has your identity as a student shifted now that you’ve returned to campus sober?
Student A: My identity as a student has shifted in just about every way. I feel much more grateful to be a student at UGA, school is now an actual priority, and I’ve become more of a team player who can actually help my peers in group study sessions and proudly represent UGA as a student who excels.
Student B: I’m an infinitely better student now than I was before I got sober. I truly value my education, and I’m able to achieve my academic goals. However, I now prioritize my mental and spiritual health over a class or a grade.
Did you utilize the option to take a hardship withdraw when you left?
Student A: No- I just hopped out and barely passed most of the classes I was taking.
Student B: Yes, after I finally accepted that it was the only way I would be able to adequately address my issues with alcohol and take the time I needed to work on myself.
How many semesters did you take off before returning to campus?
Student A: I took 3 years off.
Student B: Only one. It may seem surprisingly brief, but I truly felt like I was ready to go back. I talked it through with my therapist, parents, and sponsor, and they were supportive.
Were you nervous to return to campus?
Student A: Not at all. Dealing with my emotional issues has made everything else in life seem like a cakewalk.
What resources did you rely on to support your return to campus?
Student A: The UGA CRC [Collegiate Recovery Community] has been great.
How do you handle navigating drinking culture on campus now that you’re sober?
Student A: I call people in my sober network if I ever feel overwhelmed with fomo, and I always “play the tape through,” remembering how miserable I was while drinking. Today I know that alcohol winds up making me feel anxious and depressed, and there is a solution to the discontentment I feel even when I don’t drink. For those reasons I usually don’t feel any fomo and I’m grateful to be sober.
Student B: Early in my recovery, there were times that I disclosed my recovery in order to avoid getting caught up in high-risk situations. However, I’ve felt less inclined to do so as I have grown more comfortable in my recovery; I’m more comfortable politely declining and leaving it at that. No one at the University of Georgia has directly asked me whether I am an alcoholic outside of the CRC, so it’s not an issue I have to deal with frequently.
What would you share with a current student who may be struggling to find sobriety and feeling alone?
Student A: There is a solution!!!! If you feel even worse when you actually get sober and stop drinking, you are just like me. There is a solution to being restless, irritable, and discontent all the time. Also, I’ve found it’s absolutely necessary to get help- I tried for a long time and wasn’t able to get sober on my own.
Student B: To someone questioning their own substance use, I would suggest reaching out to a mental health professional or any kind of 12-step/recovery group and going into it with an open mind. I would recommend that UGA students specifically reach out to the CRC. All of these resources have been immensely helpful throughout my recovery.
What activities/routines have you incorporated into your daily schedule since recovery that you know/knew you needed to be intentional to set yourself up for success?
Student A: Abstinence from other bad habits has been key for me, rather than incorporating many new habits, I find it especially crucial to avoid routinely overeating, staying up until 4 a.m. on youtube/reddit/playing video games, etc. The most important habit I’ve established is meditating every morning.
For more information on the Collegiate Recovery Community, or recovery in general, please contact the CRC Program Manager, Brittany Mauzy, at email@example.com.
Looking for Support?
The University of Georgia offers a Collegiate Recovery Community for students who have made a commitment to lead sober, healthy lives. The Collegiate Recovery Community provides an environment where students recovering from addiction can find peer support as well as other recovery support services while navigating their own college experience. Location: Room 216 of Memorial Hall right next to Sanford Stadium. Contact us at: 706-542-0285 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Brittany Mauzy, Program Manager for the Collegiate Recovery Community