Drug recovery is a long dark road, and without a few lights along the way to help you keep the path illuminated, you’re bound to trip and fall on your face in a few very painful ways. However, you can’t just rely on yourself to bring those lights onto the path – it’s the people around you, who are supporting your efforts, that help you see forward and glimpse what might loom ahead in the far distance of your road.
It’s important for us to have the light of others in our life. We humans aren’t meant to survive long-term solitude – we can live and even thrive when left alone to some capacity, but beyond a specific amount of time, we simply begin to fall apart. That’s what it means to be lonely.
The People in Your Corner
Loneliness isn’t just a symptom of finding yourself stuck on an uncharted island after being the sole survivor of a horrifying plane crash – it’s far more mundane, and much, much more common. We can be lonely in our everyday life, even as we spend the entire day speaking to others and faking real connection. Much like beauty, loneliness is in the eye of the beholder – if you find yourself unable to connect with family, unable to form friendships, unable to find any joy or meaning in the relationships you’re in, then you’re bound to be lonely no matter how densely populated your area is.
That loneliness can lead to dark, negative thoughts. We begin to question ourselves – our mind, naturally, assumes that because we’re social outcasts, something is inherently wrong with us. We begin to feel trapped by thoughts that we can’t express or talk about with others, and we relate to depressive emotions, feelings of worthlessness. It becomes a downward spiral. With or without drugs, being lonely is one of the worst feelings to have.
Combatting that loneliness, and finding actual friendship in the process, is considered by some to be central to drug recovery as well. By finding and befriending people, we can relate to, and by becoming a part of a group – a family, even – we begin to realize important truths about ourselves. We begin to see a side of ourselves that might’ve been forgotten, or was never there. And in drug recovery, reconnecting and truthfully becoming a part of the family again is important in maintaining that feeling of self with which to strive for sobriety.
That’s what it means to have people in your corner – regardless of whether you choose to find professional treatment, a support system is vital during recovery to keep you on track, motivated, and remind you why you’re going through the pain of maintaining your sobriety.
Family Is More Than Blood
Most blog entries out there focus too much on family, without clarifying that family doesn’t have to be related to you. There are many people out there with complicated family histories, many of whom would rather not return to such a household. Whether it’s a case of verbal and physical abuse, domestic violence or psychological torment, there’s no abject need for you to reconnect with the people who have done you harm, just for the sake of reconnecting with them.
Instead, surround yourself with people who truly care about you. Best friends, close colleagues, old pals – make new friends or reconnect with those you lost along the way. It won’t be easy at first – it never is, opening to others and trusting them with your friendship and your true feelings – but the rewards of a real bond between people are immeasurable.
Part of learning to come to terms with yourself over the course of drug recovery is learning that you can afford to cut out the people in your life that do you nothing but harm. There’s no need to stick around friends or family members that abuse you, out of loyalty or any other reason. Instead, take the opportunity of recovery as a chance to make drastic changes in life, by purposefully avoiding the people and places that are bound to bring you back into negativity and self-loathing, and by surrounding yourself with people who motivate you, inspire you with their drive and progress, and remind you wordlessly to never give up, even in the worst of scenarios.
You Owe Them (and Yourself)
Given the consensus and agreeable literature, it’s virtually undisputable that responsibility and accountability play huge roles in the successful recovery of struggling drug addicts – but that doesn’t mean they are preventative measures for addiction. Instead, by purposefully making ourselves accountable to others – by taking on the responsibilities of a sibling, a parent, or a partner – we prove to ourselves that we’re capable of doing important things, and being important people to those who really matter to us.
Recovery is about more than just owing up to your mistakes or making up for the harm you may have caused in your days as an addict – it’s about making positive choices not out of punishment or because of repentance, but because you owe it to yourself to feel better about yourself, to feel good and enjoy life without having to mask the emotional weight of your worst moments with the numbing feeling of inebriation.
That’s the only responsibility someone has when struggling with sobriety and recovery – the responsibility to get better, for themselves, and for those around them. Utilizing that as motivation – the will to be someone you can be at peace with, someone who provides for their family, lifts the mood and inspires people to be a bit more confident and excited about living – can help you get through a few rough patches in life.
Of course, recovery is so much more than just wanting to get better – but without a fiery passion for a drug-free life, your recovery won’t get very far. The struggle of staying sober is amplified when our motivation is shot – make sure to have daily reminders of what it means to live in a family again, from making new friends at rehab to living in a friendly sober living community, to returning home and soaking in the love even in the most trying of times.