Recovery requires a complete lifestyle change in order to be successful. Inevitably, some relationships will need to go in order to support your sobriety. While this is a critical step in protecting your sobriety, it can leave you feeling a little alone or isolated. Dealing with this loss while also coping with the physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with addiction treatment can be overwhelming.
Although these changes can be difficult to cope with, it is essential for the healing process. In place of enabling relationships, you must intentionally develop friendships with others who support your recovery. While you may already have relationships like that now in your life, it is important to continue developing those moving forward and establish that as a requirement for any new relationship in the future. Maintaining sobriety long-term is a difficult journey on its own and does not need the added pressure of unsupportive relationships on top of it. Instead, supportive, encouraging relationships with people who will hold you accountable will not only ease the recovery journey, but also help you find more enjoyment in life.
The Positive Impact of the Sober Community in Recovery
While much of your success in recovery is in your hands, your relationships will also play a vital role in the quality of your recovery. Developing relationships within the sober community can help you manage trying times and find ways to cope with the help of others. There are numerous benefits to staying closely connected to the sober community throughout the recovery process. This includes:
- Knowing relapse can cost you something: You may already know that there are consequences when you relapse, but having something you can concretely see as being in jeopardy as a result of relapse can make it more real. In addition to losing a job and negatively impacting your health, the knowledge that relapse can cost you friendships can be motivating on its own.
- Relationships can ease stress: Having support from others can make the stressful events you experience feel more manageable. Whether it’s the stress of a busy day or a life-changing event such as the death of a loved one, having supportive relationships can help you protect your sobriety. Rather than resorting to using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, friends can help you keep perspective and use healthy coping mechanisms instead.
- Friendships reduce the risk of relapse: When you are recovering alone, you are more likely to relapse. Studies show that those who do not have sober relationships are more likely to relapse as opposed to those who do. This is because friends can hold you accountable, check in with you, and help keep you on track even when you are faced with particularly trying times.
- You develop new role models: When you are trying to navigate a sober lifestyle, having someone you look up to and want to emulate can help. Sober role models can teach you a lot about how to cope with stressors, how to balance responsibilities, and how to ask for help when needed. Sober friends can share their experiences and knowledge with you to help you make sound decisions in the future. When you see how well someone works within their sobriety, you are more likely to follow in their footsteps because you can see the outcome for yourself.
- Friends give you hope: There will be good days and bad days in recovery. Support from friends can make the bad days feel more manageable. Having relationships where you can openly express how you feel without fear of judgement or ridicule can help prevent you from bottling up unhealthy thoughts or feelings. Instead, you can process them with input from loved ones who want to help you succeed.
Ways to Connect with a Sober Community
There are a number of ways you can build relationships within the sober community. No matter where you are in your recovery journey, there are ways to build healthy support networks with peers who share similar goals. Depending on individual circumstances, some of these options may be more feasible than others.
- Long-term treatment: One of the easiest ways to form a meaningful connection to the recovery community is through treatment. The longer you stay in treatment, the better your outcomes are. You also have more time to build relationships with staff and peers in the program which can develop into life-long friendships.
- Recovery groups: Recovery groups are a great way to connect with the sober community after completing treatment. You have the ability to continue important discussions and find support from peers who share similar experiences. It also provides you with the opportunity to give back to the community and help others in their journey as well.
- Outpatient or sober living: If you are not fully ready to transition back into the real-world following treatment, outpatient care or sober living communities can provide you with a more independent form of support. While there are rules to follow in either of these programs, they allow you to adjust to life after treatment with the assistance of structure and support. This allows you to be surrounded by the sober community and continue working on your sobriety while becoming accustomed to more independent living.
- Mentor someone: Recovery is a never-ending journey, but that does not mean you cannot provide support to others as well. Although you will always be working on managing your sobriety, the skills and lessons you have learned along the way are valuable not only to yourself, but to others following a similar path. Becoming a mentor for someone in recovery provides you with the unique opportunity to help someone in their own journey while simultaneously providing you with the ability to reflect on your own experiences. You can help someone by sharing your story and encouraging them to fight for their sobriety, just as you have done.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.