Premed in recovery

Hello all,

I’m hoping some of you out there may have some feedback or advice for me.

I started taking premed courses last semester and am nervous that my previous academic troubles may be too much of a stumbling block for my eventual application to medical schools. When I first started college back in 2004 I was struggling heavily with drug and alcohol addiction and as such was not attentive to any of my studies. I continued in addiction for several years and have about 4 years of poor GPA to show for it. After getting clean, I went back to school and got a Bachelor’s degree in alcohol and drug counseling and worked as an addiction counselor for about four years until this past fall when I went back to school for premed. My GPA from my counseling degree is good and I have so far gotten straight As in all of my premed classes.

My question is, will my poor GPA from my first years in college, from 2004 to 2008, be an insurmountable obstacle when I submit applications for med schools, or is there some way to request forgiveness/consideration for those years which are no longer representative of my academic skill?

I’d appreciate any feedback or advice.

Thank You!

Those grades will factor into the GPA calculations, but grades from that long ago shouldn’t hurt you as badly from a non-statistical perspective, especially since you have done well since then. Be prepared to discuss why you did poorly, how you changed between then and now, and possibly what strategies you’re using now (vs then) that are allowing you to be successful. Other than that, there’s nothing else you can do. It’s not a show stopper in my opinion, but you didn’t make it easy on yourself. It does make for a great success story though.

There are schools, like mine, that make special exceptions for non-trads. LSU is somewhat know for its “32-hour policy”, where they will look at your most recent 32 hours of post-bach coursework as a substitute for your overall GPA. There may be other schools with similar policies, but it would take some research to find those out.

Anyhow, good luck with your journey, and feel free to reach out to any of us if you need some help.


OMG I am so glad to come across your post. I am also in recovery as well. I became addicted to narcotics after a surgery on my hand in 2003. I have since been clean and sober for 11 years. I thought I was the only person with this situation.

My ask you if you are planning on "coming out"to admissions committees? I will be applying next cycle and I have not been able to decide if this is some I should or want to discuss due to stigma associated with it. The only problem with not discussing it is the current opioid epidemic had plaid a huge role in my desire to be a physician.

Feel free to PM me as well.

I am in the same boat as you; thanks for posting this! Much like you, now that I’m knocking out my pre-reqs, I have almost a 4.0 GPA–in contrast to my poor performance when I was actively drinking and using years ago.

Although I have a compelling recovery story that took a lot of hard work to overcome, I’ve heard conflicting information on how to address this during the admissions interview. The consensus seems to be to skirt around it if at all possible–reference personal demons and challenges and give specific examples of what habits you have in place today to stay on track. DO NOT directly bring up drug and alcohol abuse without being prompted! Of course, I don’t know how to answer if I’m directly asked, which has me worried. I’ve convinced myself and everyone around me that I’m on the straight and narrow, but I don’t know what will be enough for an admissions committee. They have to consider the risk of granting a recovered addict a DEA license, even if clean and sober for years.