The Power Of Support Systems In Addiction Recovery
When struggling with drug addiction, many people self-isolate. They often worry that their loved ones will judge them for having the disease.
While isolation might seem like the safest option, it puts your life in serious danger. That’s because support systems play an essential role in addiction recovery.
What Is A Support System?
A support system is a group of people who help you stay healthy and sober. It may include:
- family members
- people you meet in support groups
- therapists and other health care providers experienced in treating
- members of churches, clubs, or other organizations you attend
These individuals can offer encouragement, comfort, and guidance as you recover from addiction.
How To Build A Healthy Support System
A strong support system consists only of people who are 100% supportive of your recovery. In other words, it should not include people who might:
- offer you alcohol or other drugs
- invite you to drug-heavy parties and get angry if you decline
- belittle your recovery efforts in any way
Anyone who displays these behaviors does not belong in your support system. In fact, you should probably avoid them in general, especially when you’re new to recovery.
When building your support system, choose people who are reliable, caring, and sober. If none of your family members or friends meet these criteria, don’t worry.
As mentioned above, your support system can also consist of people you meet at group therapy sessions or peer support groups. Some of the most popular addiction support groups include:
- 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
- SMART Recovery
- LifeRing Secular Recovery
- Women for Sobriety
The Power Of Support Systems In Addiction Recovery
Throughout your recovery journey, your support system can offer you emotional support, understanding, positive influence, and emergency help.
As you recover, you may experience a variety of difficult emotions, including fear, sadness, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. It’s important to express these feelings so you can make sense of them and let them pass.
Many people express their feelings through writing, painting, or other creative activities. While these options work well, you also need to talk about your feelings with others.
These conversations let you blow off steam and gain new insights into your situation. Each member of your support system can offer unique perspectives and coping tips.
Also, since a support system includes multiple people, you won’t have to worry about overloading one person with your emotional challenges.
When recovering from addiction, you might feel like no one understands what you’re going through. That’s why your support system should include people who have also struggled with the disease.
Whether you’ve been friends for years or just met them in a support group, these people will help you feel less alone. You can describe your experiences to them without fear of judgment.
You can also ask them which coping strategies helped them through certain parts of recovery. In addition, if you’re feeling discouraged, they can offer hope.
For instance, if you relapse, you might feel like you failed and that you’ll never achieve a healthy, sober life. Your recovered friends can remind you that relapse is a normal part of recovery and help you find the right addiction treatment center.
In the midst of addiction, most people find it difficult to think about anything besides drug abuse. They often withdraw from their loved ones and spend all their time with other people who abuse drugs.
As you recover, the people in your support system will show you that you can enjoy life without drugs.
They can join you for sober activities that boost your sense of well-being, such as yoga, meditation, and hiking. They can also introduce you to hobbies that you never tried before or neglected while you were abusing drugs.
Throughout your recovery process, you’ll encounter triggers. Triggers are sights, sounds, feelings, or other stimuli that cause intense drug cravings. Common triggers include:
- people you used to do drugs with
- the smell of alcohol or other drugs
- bars, clubs, or other places associated with drug use
- unpleasant feelings, such as stress, sadness, or anger
Your support system can help you manage these triggers.
For example, if you’re invited to an event where alcohol or other drugs might be present, one of your sober friends can come with you. If you get triggered, they can remind you to use coping skills, such as breathing deeply or listing all the reasons you became sober in the first place.
Also, if you feel like you’re about to relapse, your friend can help you leave the event as quickly as possible and get you to a safe space, such as a support group meeting.
If you or a loved one struggles with drug use, please contact Recovering Champions. Our outpatient substance abuse treatment programs offer mental health counseling, 12-step meetings, medication-assisted treatment, and a variety of other recovery-focused services.
Recovering Champions Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.