It can be difficult to rely on others, but that’s one of the central themes in recovery – trusting others enough to let them be there for you in your more vulnerable times, especially when you can’t completely trust yourself.
For some, however, leaning on others for support might not seem like a feasible option at first glance. Or, you might simply not know how to ask for help. We’re taught to stand on our own two feet and pride ourselves on the things we get done by our own hands – but we need to realize that there are times when we truly need each other, when there’s no substitute for a good hug or a favor or an act of kindness.
Being open to others is hard when you’re fresh off an addiction, but you can start a step at a time. When it comes to looking for support, consider your options as layered, starting from the inside and spreading out.
It might sound ridiculous to look in yourself for support, but the message here is that addiction recovery is really a lifelong journey about learning how to live a sober life, with increasingly less assistance, while still knowing what it means to appreciate the help of those you love and care about.
This is more of a long-term goal, but it’s an important part of recovery nonetheless. Also known as “self-love”, learning to rely on yourself takes months, if not years of steady sobriety, and better living – the kind that involves having a new lease on life, perhaps a new purpose, or at least something to focus on while you go through your recovery. Some people find solace in a spiritual goal, while others pursue career goalposts, or just seek to better themselves as athletes, parents, or members of the community.
Whatever it might be, your new purpose will give you the ability to rely on yourself and your choices and be more confident in who you are. Recovery isn’t about giving yourself over to others, but it’s about getting the help you need to heal and be a healthier person, both emotionally and physically.
From the Partner
If you’re in a relationship with another person, depending on the strength and age of the bond you share, it’s likely that they’re going to be your first line of defense in the struggle against addiction, and in the fight for a better life – not just for you, but for both of you. Being accountable to another human being is a powerful motivator, especially when you realize how your addiction has affected your loved one.
But it can be difficult to sustain a young relationship, especially in the early stages of recovery. Many argue that it isn’t healthy to be with someone else while you’re in recovery, unless the relationship is stable enough that the long-term commitment has already been established. If you’re just dating someone and aren’t sure about your future together, it’s best to consider putting the relationship on hold until you’re a more secure and put-together person.
If your partner is your spouse or a person you deeply trust on the same level, then their support will be critical. Being in a committed relationship with someone means being there even when things are at their toughest. But it’s important to understand that personal boundaries exist. Try not to rely entirely on your spouse and give them room to breathe and do the things they need to do to keep themselves sane and ready to tackle anything.
From the Family
Not everyone has a family they can rely on, but if you do, then you are truly blessed. Parents, siblings, cousins and extended kin can all pitch in to help out when you need it, whether that means just talking for a bit, having a safe place to stay when you don’t want to be in your neighborhood, or just wanting some company to keep you sober when you’re in a particularly bad place.
It’s expected of most people to move out of their parents’ home when they reach adulthood and explore the world for themselves. But that doesn’t mean you should stop being their child. That means always having a place to return to in dire need, for words of comfort or wisdom, and critical emotional help.
Other people don’t have a family to return to, for one reason or another. But in many cases, people who don’t want to speak to their old family tend to build a new one – through friends.
Friends are the people we choose to be with. Sometimes we make bad decisions – and those are the friends you don’t want to be with when you’re trying to stay sober – but if you have that one group or handful of friends who you know would stay with you through thick and thin, then asking them for help to keep you on the right track can be a good thing.
On the subject of friends, another thing to consider is the impact that toxic relationships might have on your support network. Having contact with people who still use, or drink can seriously endanger your sobriety, and tempt you when the cravings are already unbearable.
From the Community
Even when it seems like you can’t turn to your partner, your family, or your friends, there are still many ways to get help. Sober living homes are perfect for people looking for the kind of support you need when you desperately need something to keep you from making a bad mistake.
These are communities that function on a basic but strict ruleset to prevent any and all drugs from entering the community or being used there. At sober living homes, you get to live a normal life alongside other recovering addicts, learning more from them about the hardships and joys of staying sober, and growing stronger through it.
Basic rules include curfews and drug tests, but they are excellent havens for people who have just relapsed or are afraid they’re about to, as places to rededicate yourself to sobriety, figure out what it is you want to do, and find ways to cope with the stress of recovery without succumbing to temptations.