Recovery is not a journey meant to be walked alone, even if it might seem that way at first. While it’s up to each individual to commit themselves to their recovery and dig their heels in when the going gets rough, it’s often only through the support of professionals, loved ones, and friends that many recovering addicts make it through years of hardship and eventually become comfortable in their long-term sobriety.
Staying clean for years is not easy for a recovering addict, especially with countless moments of temptation, powerful cravings, and the often-overwhelming challenges of early and ongoing recovery, from taking on old and new responsibilities to mending broken relationships and facing the consequences of countless regrettable decisions.
For almost all recovering addicts, having a proper support system is crucial. But where do you go to look for support during recovery? The answer is going to be a little different for everyone.
The first community we are all introduced to is our family. For most people, family represents something special. Whether these are your biological parents, your foster parents, your stepparents, your grandparents, or other people who have spent years by your side, family is meant to be the foundation we can rely on when we need someone to rely on.
However, if you and your family have had a major falling out, finding the chance – or the strength – to reconnect can be quite difficult. Being estranged from one’s family can be an unbelievably painful experience, especially if you feel at least partially at fault. With any luck, some clear communication, and potentially some counseling, you may still have another shot at being part of a family again.
However, if the separation occurred due to especially vicious or toxic behavior, it’s worth considering whether you truly want your family to help you in the process of beating an addiction. Our families are meant to be our staunchest supporters, and those we are loyal to the most. But some people struggle to communicate with their relatives due to irreconcilable differences. Toxic relationships need to be removed, not rekindled, and sometimes that goes for the people we formed our earliest bonds with. Instead, consider relying on a different kind of family – the kind you have the chance to choose.
To some, bonds made between friends are even thicker than bonds of blood. And that makes sense – we don’t always mesh well with our relatives, but it’s through years of experience that we eventually find others with similar interests and different perspectives, with enough in common to form a great dynamic. But a fun vibe isn’t enough when you’re looking for a friend to help rely on during some of the hardest years of your life. Many recovering addicts wouldn’t want to do put that burden on their friends, understandably. However, you will need the help – and it’s much easier if you’ve got more than just one person to rely on.
A friend can help talk to you when you need someone to speak with, they can help encourage sobriety by assisting you in finding and trying out new hobbies, they can help organize your transition out of rehab and back into the regular world, they can help encourage healthier habits – from better eating to regular exercise – and much more.
Sobriety groups exist both online and centered around specific locations as places for people to meet up and share stories of struggling with addiction, working through recovery, facing the various challenges of long-term sobriety, and succeeding over time. They are places to meet other recovering addicts on similar paths and hear about their perspectives on the difficulties of addiction.
They also offer a place for you to weigh in on your own journey and speak about what has helped motivate you to keep moving forward. When a recovering addict feels that speaking about addiction and recovery is simply impossible in a crowd of non-addicts, then the best option is to speak with others who have gone through similar experiences, and can provide a varied insight into issues you might feel you’ve struggled with in relative solace.
Local recovery groups also represent a way to continue to invest emotionally and psychologically in your own recovery without continuing to make use of addiction clinics and rehab facilities, by staying in touch with others going through the recovery process.
A specialist in addiction can provide you some completely different and fresh insight into how your addiction might continue to affect your life, and how you can better handle the aftermath of your drug use in a way that allows you to be happier and more fulfilled.
Addiction hits some harder than others, and it isn’t uncommon for individuals with a history of drug use to continue to struggle with anxious thoughts, as well as feelings of self-loathing or depression. Being honest about these emotions and tackling them in a professional setting can be an effective way to prevent potential relapses in the future. For recovering addicts struggling with the aftermath of a relapse, a therapist can provide support to help them get back on their feet and continue the recovery process.
Sober Living Communities
Sober living homes and communities provide an excellent form of long-term support to individuals fresh out of recovery looking for a way to maintain their sobriety for years to come, as well as seeking ways to ease the transition between their past as a drug user, and their challenges in the future. Rather than being just more of the same, sober living facilities often differentiate themselves from rehab facilities and outpatient programs by doing away with much of the ‘program’ aspect of recovery, and instead focusing on helping recovering addicts deal with their day-to-day challenges in early sobriety.
Other aspects of sobriety that are focused on in a sober living community include a focus on community, earnest discussions on the challenges of recovery, and group activities that encourage tenants to spend time together and learn to better know each other.
Establishing your own ways to find support when struggling with any aspects of recovery is an important part of the process. While it’s ultimately up to each recovering addict to walk their own path, it’s also important to know that you need all the help you can get.