In active addiction many find that they have isolated and or alienated themselves from friends and family. In early recovery one of the priorities of treatment is to help individuals develop and strengthen their sober support community.
The company we keep greatly influences our choices and behavior. Having a positive support system will not only encourage healthy behaviors but also offers accountability for when treatment is completed.
What Is Social Support?
Social support can be a group or person who an individual feels they can openly communicate about personal experiences. A desirable person would be someone who may be able to offer trustworthy advice or has relatable experiences. Recovery can be a very uncomfortable and sensitive subject. Therefore, a person should seek supportive relationships that provide trust, compassion and confidentiality.
Where To Find Social Support
Social support can come in many forms. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most popular community based support system. Since 1935, AA groups have been helping people struggling with alcoholism. It did not take long for many other groups to adopt the AA principles forming other groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Al-Ateen, Cocaine Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. These types of mutual aid or bridge groups are free and allow anyone to join who is struggling and wants to stop an undesired behavior. AA and other anonymous groups are run by fellow members and peers. Smart Recovery is another mutual aid group that is free, however it is facilitated by a trained substance abuse professional. Other social support groups geared toward addiction are church based groups like Celebrate Recovery. Joining a fitness group, sports team, club or other self-help groups are also helpful in providing a solid foundation in recovery support. Social support is not just limited to formal recovery groups; it can be family members, loved ones, trained professionals, doctors, friends or colleagues. Anyone who an individual can truly feel open and honest in sharing their recovery with is a suitable social support.
Benefits Of Social Support
To quote Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” When we feel we have someone to support us, we feel more empowered to succeed. Due to isolating behaviors and relationship problems, those in early recovery often feel alone. Developing and strengthening social support system has the following benefits:
Increased emotional support
Sense of belonging
Reduction in feelings of loneliness
Helps to maintain goals
Sense of service
Positive role model
Decreases boredom and idle time
When someone stops drinking or using substances, their relationship needs often change. For supportive friends and family members it would be valuable to seek education about the disease of addiction and support through Al-Anon, counseling or other family support groups/individuals. It is recommended that the individual in recovery communicates their individual needs and helpful ways that loved ones can contribute to their recovery. AA says “it’s a we program” no one should have to recover alone, there is help for those who seek it. Consider joining a mutual aid group, church or self-help program coupled with a treatment program to build a foundation in recovery that supports long term sobriety.
If you or a loved one need help for an addiction or alcohol problem and want to know more about treatment options, call us at: (630) 402-0144.