Sober Spaces in College

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 | By Cooper Samp

What Are They?

There seems to be a constant struggle for students to continually avoid substances while attending college. It shouldn’t be this way but because college is often a time when students begin to experiment with socializing and partying it is often hard to avoid.

Sober spaces are areas, whether living facilities or communities, where students can feel comfortable without worrying about peer pressure or safeguarding their recovery.

You do not have to be in recovery to participate in sober spaces. There is a large student population, many of them athletes, who understand the value of drug and alcohol abstinence. By connecting students who value sobriety, students can enjoy the social pleasures that come with college without having to succumb to unhealthy actions.

Sober Housing

Today, an increasing number of universities like Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, address this issue by establishing what they call “sober spaces.” These spaces are typically substance-free residence halls and sober living communities. These areas provide students an opportunity to avoid the prevalent drug use and drinking in college. 

Collegiate Recovery Communities

Similar to “sober spaces”, some colleges like the University of Central Florida (UCF) organize social groups and gatherings that bring together individuals who support and promote sobriety. These groups are called Collegiate Recovery Communities or CRCs. More than 100 collegiate recovery communities exist on campuses across the United States.

For individuals who happen to see their problem early on (before attending college), they should have an equal right to attend college without sacrificing their sobriety. Colleges have a history of cultivating a culture based on drinking and partying – especially through traditional organizations such as Greek fraternities and sororities. Because Collegiate Recovery Communities are relatively new, many students in recovery start their own CRC on their campus.

large dormitory made for sober students

Finding a sober space in college may be difficult, but meeting fellow sober students and collaborating to build these spaces can be a great start. If your university does not offer sober spaces, then these CRC’s (Collegiate Recovery Communities) can be a great way to meet friends and eventually roommates to create your own sober living space. 

How to Find Sober Spaces at Your College

A great way to find these safe spaces is to talk with your school administrators about sober space resources. They may even be able to point you in the direction of clubs and organizations that may not be recovery based but focus on abstinence from drugs and alcohol nonetheless. When in doubt, sober spaces are anywhere around campus you can feel safe, welcomed, and productive; like a coffee shop. 

Often times students may have conflicts with their roommates about drug or alcohol use. The best option in this situation is to talk with them about how these actions make you feel uncomfortable and could jeopardize your health and future. If nothing changes, this can be grounds for relocation. Talk with your professors or resident assistants and discuss your options. Changing your living arrangements could result in a more enjoyable college experience.

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