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Some addicts and alcoholics may not have competed high school or college while in active addiction. You may start thinking that to get a good job; you will have to go back to school. 

Preparing Yourself

School can be very demanding especially if you have to work to pay your tuition or bills while in school. Just like getting your first job in recovery, you need to be prepared for the demands that school will place on your time and the stress of completing the requirements.

It is important to have developed appropriate coping skills and have a support system of family and friends to rely on when you are feeling overwhelmed.

The benefits of going back to school are that it will increase your sense of purpose in life, raise your self-esteem and build confidence. To reap the benefits, be sure that your goals are realistic. To attempt to get a degree in advanced mathematics when you were never good at math is setting yourself up for failure.

Some Tips for Going Back to School ...


If you did not complete high school, you will need to pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam.

  • The requirements for the exam differ according to which state you live in.
  • The test covers five areas:  writing, math, social studies, science and reading
  • You can prepare for the test by getting a GED preparation book, looking for resources online or taking a class at a local community college.
  • Go to the website Your GED which will locate GED testing facilities near you.


If you are considering going to college, you have many options to choose from including community colleges, state colleges and universities and private colleges and universities.

  • You may have to take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) if you didn’t take it in high school. Go to this website for more information about the SAT.

Financial Aid

  • You may qualify for grants or scholarships (which do not have to be paid back) or loans (which do have to be paid back) to help with the cost of college.This website provides information on grants and scholarships.
  • If you are interested in a trade school, contact the school you are interested in and ask about financial aid. Most schools have some form of financial aid available.
  • If you have a disability (mental health disorders and addiction can qualify you as having a disability), contact your state’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). If you qualify, OVR may offer you financial assistance for college or a trade school.

You have many options if you decide that you want to go back to school and there are many government programs available to help with the financial costs of school. Going back to school can help you get a better job and make you feel like you have accomplished something great. It may mean a lot of work but it is well worth what you put into it.

About the author Anna Deeds:
I am a recovering addict and a Licensed Professional Counselor. I have over 7 years clean from all substances and more than 10 years from illicit drugs. I work as an addiction counselor and have more than 5 years experience counseling addicts.
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Page last updated Jun 18, 2013

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