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Sober Living at Universities: Saving Lives One Semester at a Time
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The alcohol-infused campuses across America may make it seem impossible to have a true “college experience” in recovery. Universities with on-campus sober living options make that possibility a reality for many.
Can you imagine a college campus housing a sober living? College campuses across the United States are notorious for the incredible numbers of students who binge drink on the weekends. Once away from their parents, young adults receive their first taste of true freedom and many push it to the extreme.
The statistics regarding alcohol consumption and abuse on campus are alarming but hardly shocking. According to studies done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, current research indicates that every year:
- Roughly 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related incidents, including car accidents
- Approximately 696,000 students were assaulted by another student who is under the influence
- Around 97,000 experienced a sexual assault or date rape involving alcohol
- About 20 percent of college students fit the outlined criteria for an alcohol use disorder (AUD)
The prevalence of substance abuse has skyrocketed over the past decade, especially among young adults. How do college campuses respond to such high rates of dangerous alcohol-related incidents occuring every year?
Recently, numerous sober living communities sprouted on campuses across the nation. These groups fight against the notion that you need to drink in order to have a true college experience. They aim to provide a place for students in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, or those who are trying to get sober.
The Prevalence of Underage Drinking
No matter where you are in the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. Nearly every student who enters college during their freshman year is 18, well under the age to purchase alcohol. Still, many of these incoming freshman started drinking long before they even started applying to their favorite schools.
There are large numbers of kids who start drinking well before they are halfway through high school. 33 percent of students have had at least one drink by the age of 15. That percentage nearly doubles to 60 percent of students who have had a drink by the time they are 18. This means that more than half of the students entering college in the fall have already had a drink.
It is more difficult for these young students to access alcohol so they don’t drink as often as adults do. When they are able to access it, though, young people tend to drink much more than their older counterparts do. 5.1 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 report binge drinking at least once in the past month.
Some young people find themselves seeking sobriety early on in life, in their late teenage years. They attend treatment, transition into sober living, then move into young adulthood. But for those who continue drinking, the path may look quite different. If drinking is already a part of their life by the time they start their higher education, they are much more likely to continue drinking when it’s more accessible.
Can Someone Really Stay Sober in College?
When you think of college, you don’t think of kids clamoring to move into a campus sober living.
You likely associate at least some of the college experience with a fraternity or a sorority. Whether or not you were involved in “Greek Life,” the Greek letters, colors, and chants are almost impossible to avoid. Tables crop up right before pledge season, recruiting underclassmen intrigued by the pull of a guaranteed community.
Or perhaps you think of the athletics programs who want to take the edge off after a grueling week of practice and games. Many members athletic programs can run the gamut with the Greeks. You don’t need to earn the privilege to wear Greek letters in order to crush a case of beers with your friends.
Truly, the media exposure tends to give these specific communities a bad name. There are many hardworking students involved in Greek life and athletics who don’t need a drink to have a good time. In reality, you don’t need to be involved in any sort of extracurricular at all to find yourself exposed to drinking on campus. Research shows that roughly four out of five college students drink alcohol.
It seems like it’s everywhere if you aren’t looking in the right places. And staying sober in such a booze-fueled environment often seems impossible. Students from all walks of life relax over drinks at the bar, in small backyard parties with friends, or at tailgates before football games.
The appearance of sober living residences on campus, though, make the seeming impossibility a reality for many.