It is often said that the opposite of addiction is connection, and it is vital for people in recovery – especially early recovery – to find a community of support. Community is essential for maintaining and enjoying sobriety, avoiding feelings of isolation, rediscovering self, and connecting with others who understand what you’re experiencing.
The end of a treatment program is just the beginning of a lifelong recovery journey. Laying the foundation for a strong support system through peers, groups, and other healthy communities with shared interests is essential to thriving and growing throughout your recovery.
You Are Not Alone
Substance use disorder can be very isolating. Many people struggling with active drug or alcohol use aren’t accustomed to talking about what is happing in their life. Substance use causes people to withdraw to hide the full scope of their use, and the perceived stigma surrounding substance use disorder can lead to shame and silence.
In order to maintain a healthy recovery, it’s important to open up, share feelings, and ask for help. It’s essential to have a safe, trusted community of people who have walked the path before you to help face newfound feelings, challenges, and encourage the rediscovery of self. Studies show that a strong support system leads to lower relapse rates, and provides a needed social network as well. A community of support helps build a practice of sharing, and the understanding that you never have to face anything alone again.
Support with Healthy Lifestyle Changes
There is more to recovery than ceasing the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Sustainable recovery involves lifestyle changes that center around wellness, and balance of mind, body, and spirit. One of the best ways to develop and maintain healthy habits is through community. This typically begins with developing relationships based on a shared foundation of recovery, and it leads to other healthy lifestyle changes.
It is common in early recovery to wonder about how to have fun without the use of drugs and/or alcohol. A network of sober support demonstrates that there is a myriad of ways to have fun and experience joy in recovery. This is particularly important when a newly sober person doesn’t feel comfortable socializing with friends and family who still use substances. Building a new network of peer support in recovery opens up new horizons of wellness-based activities and interests.
Support Groups and the Power of Example
A community of support provides opportunities to get to know people who are also in recovery. Support groups not only help people feel connected, they also provide examples of people successfully maintaining sobriety. In a group setting, people learn how others thrive in recovery, overcome obstacles, and share feelings and experiences in a safe environment.
There are peer-based support groups focused around sobriety, like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Women for Sobriety that host geographically based meetings, and it’s usually possible to find a meeting that is convenient for you. Connecting with a therapist or counselor who can recommend therapeutically-based support groups is also helpful. This can be especially useful for treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. The important thing is to find an environment where you are comfortable sharing, can learn from the experiences of others, and feel a sense of inclusion and support.
Accountability and Motivation
A support network helps to hold you accountable to your recovery and your goals. It’s more effective to ask for – and receive – accountability from a group of people who have shared experiences, and who can provide real-time advice and insight. By becoming actively involved in a support community, they are oftentimes more likely than you to see your own behavioral changes and triggers, as these can be hard to spot for the person experiencing them. By regularly spending time with supportive people, they get to know you well and can provide valuable perspective on how things are going.
Finding a community of people who share your interests and values is also highly motivating. This doesn’t always need to be centered around substance use recovery, either. As you build healthy habits and hobbies, sharing these experiences with others helps keep you on track, celebrate your successes, and overcome obstacles. This may be in the form of a running or walking club, reading group, hobby-based group, or any other activity you enjoy doing that enriches your spirit.
How to Find a Sober Support Community
Knowing where to find a sober support community can feel intimidating, but the reality is that there are over 23 million people in the United States alone who are living in long-term sobriety, and there are many paths you can explore. If you aren’t sure where to start, SAMHSA’s Introduction to Mutual Support Groups for Alcohol and Drug Abuse provides a list of resources – both online and offline – with ideas.
There are other avenues you can explore in conjunction with finding a sober support community, such as volunteering for a cause you care about, and/or joining a fitness/wellness community like a gym, yoga studio, or hobby club. Is there something you always wanted to try but never seemed to find the time? Now is your chance! Augmenting your recovery program with interests, hobbies, and creative endeavors fuels your mind, body, and spirit and provides a strong underpinning to your recovery.
Herren Wellness’ Support Community
When you come to Herren Wellness, you are immediately connected with a thriving community of people at all stages of their recovery journey. We introduce healthy habits and routines centered around emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness that provide a solid foundation for redisocvering your interests, experiencing joy in sobriety, and building structure and routine.
We provide several alumni support communities, including a weekly recovery support group, monthly alumni meeting, and online alumni community you can access anytime. Your connection to Herren Wellness doesn’t end when your stay ends; we are there for you throughout your recovery journey.