Sober College

Every time I open my AC content page I see this advertisement for Sober College. It appears in a nice big banner on the top of the page and after months of taunting me I finally clicked on the advertisement. I think I was in denial for some time and this is what delayed me from investigating this ad sooner. I guess I just couldn’t believe that someone would really create a college for addicts and alcoholics. I was wrong.

Yes, it is here, Sober College. An institution built for young alcoholics and addicts who need to receive an education and are having trouble transitioning to college, but at the same time need to be in rehab. What a concept! But before I begin shredding this idea I would like to point out one very important fact. Nowhere on the Sober College website is there any listing of success rates or statistics for people remaining sober after leaving this school of higher knowledge. In fact there is not a single statistic listed anywhere on the site in order for a person to make an informed decision about this treatment program.

At any rate, my first big problem with Sober College, is the fact that it, like most recovery programs, makes no sense. The core idea of this is to take alcoholics and addicts and provide long-term sober living and treatment so that when they leave they can now deal with life. In fact this stated quite clearly on the website as their number three core idea:

“LONG TERM – The longer a young adult can be in a treatment environment, the better the chances for lasting success.

Is it me or does this just seem like a bad idea? How can taking someone and having them live in a sober free environment, huddled together with other people with problems, and doing this for months and months; possibly be beneficial? The recovery community has created this insane method of dealing with alcoholics and addicts by placing them in rehabs for extended periods of time and then expecting them to come out and be normal. Sober College has taken this idea to the absurd: addicts and alcoholics cannot stay sober in college so now they need their own college. How is this integrating young people with drug and alcohol problems back into a normal life? Let me make this clear, if your sobriety is dependent upon isolating yourself into a community of other people with the same problem you are not normal. Furthermore, if your entire life is centered on not drinking or using drugs (which I don’t know how it could be anything other, attending a school called Sober College) you are abnormal. There is no other form of treatment for illness that operates on this idea. In fact the whole idea with treatment is to get people out of the hospital and back into the real world as functioning citizens. But not addicts and alcoholics! You see they are special and need to be corralled into facilities for ridiculous amounts of time in order to become, somehow normal?

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But what is the treatment modality at Sober College? Well, you have your standard behavioral therapies combined with psychiatry, counseling, and all whole host of other professional treatments which are probably the most helpful of anything at the college. But what is at the core of Sober College treatment, that’s right, you guessed it, twelve step therapy.

We subscribe to the 12 step theory of alcohol addiction treatment, but we by no means limit our methodology to this effective formula.

And this statement is absolutely correct, there are other methods of treatment at Sober College. There is equine, trapeze, wind-tunnel, and surf therapy. Sounds more like a carnival than a college or treatment program. Here is a description of equine therapy,

“Pack and prey animals, horses have evolved to be incredibly attuned to the emotions of those around them, and when a horse and an equine assisted therapist get together, it results in a powerfully revealing therapeutic method. You can lie to your therapist, but a horse – a horse only accepts the truth!”(Sober College, 2010)

WOW!! Who would have thought that a horse could fix my addiction? I could not make this garbage up! Here is more from the website about equine therapy,

“For many in addiction recovery, an intellectualization of our problems inhibits growth and lasting recovery. We think ourselves into believing that others are the cause of our problems, and it can be quite tough for a therapist to convince us otherwise, in a conventional therapeutic environment.

But in the barn, far removed from the office and couch of “talk therapy” we demonstrate our characters and problems in a physical and emotional way. We show others what’s impeding our growth, and it’s often a very personally revealing process as well.

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Equine assisted therapy can break down our walls of denial. Horses just don’t fall for it.” (Sober College, 2010)

What a load of horse crap! (Excuse the pun.) To date there is limited research on equine therapy and of the research that has been done much of it is inconclusive or poorly structured. Hey, but there is still surf therapy and wind tunnels which I am not even going to bother researching.

So let’s sum up this treatment:

1. Twelve Step therapy- which has a success rate of 5% or less. (which is the same as not receiving therapy)

2. Professional counseling and psychiatric service

3. Wind tunneling, equine therapy, surfing therapy, and trapeze (questionable therapies at best)

Finally what is Sober College’s college curriculum? Well you can earn your GED for high school and while you are attending Sober College you can earn a Certificate of General Studies from Woodbury University. Now mind you, this is not a degree this is a certificate which gives you 15 college credits. But what are these courses that compose this Certificate of General Studies?

Communications 495: Topics in Communication-The course is designed to utilize the 12-step program to show students how to break the addiction cycle, build a foundation for recovery, and develop a quality long-term recovery.

English 120: Composing Personal History-Composing your personal history is a tough task. This course makes it easier by breaking it down into how to get started, remembering your life in segments and events, compiling it all together and providing useful hints in creating your life’s work. Students will examine their life in detail to the present writing about what they’ve done, where they’ve been and get a feel for what they want to try next.

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PSY 210: Topics In communication: Understanding Chemical Dependency-The course is designed to utilize the 12-step program to show students how to break the addiction cycle, build a foundation for recovery, and develop a quality long-term recovery.

Courses in Development:

* History 101: History of Drugs and Alcohol in Music

* Speech 101: Introduction to Public Speaking

* Sociology 101: A Study of Emotional Intelligence as in Integrative Psychological Process

* Communications 458: Conflict Resolution (Sober College, 2010)

So now that you are removed from society, living with a bunch of addicts and alcoholics, surfing for therapy, and bonding with your horse counselor; you can expand your intellect with courses that pertain to addiction and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a surefire method to becoming a normal productive member of society. But the best part of Sober College is that it only costs $6,000 a month, but when you add in room and board, tuition, and other expenses the total cost lands at around $8000 per month. However, it is recommended that you stay for 90 days or more.


Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Healing Therapy or Just Hype? By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Sober College

Students Get Rehab and Get Educated at Sober College

The Ineffectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous: Unconstitutional Treatment (Van Noir 2009)