Social interaction and peer support is a key component of a healthy recovery. Even people who have lost loved ones through estrangement are distanced or not able to connect well with others who need love and support of fellowship. When a person is isolated in recovery, they may quit rehab early, relapse, or not feel like recovery matters and give up. There are challenges associated with rebuilding a social life during and after treatment in rehab. It is worth the effort to consider what it means to find the right support and go after it.
When it comes to substance use disorders and rehab, the old relationships often lingers in the background. Without making major changes and shifts, there may be old habits that continue. Family and friends may not support decisions and some may experience difficulty rebuilding their lives. It is not easy to start over again. Recovery is a time when everything is refreshed. It is time to look at all the old ways of doing things to see what is not working. Letting go of so much all at once feels overwhelming. Some things to keep in mind when rebuilding a social circle:
- People from the old life, including those who want to sell substances, will appear
- Old friends may mock and make fun of the journey
- Friends or family members may criticize the choices and decisions to seek treatment
Getting used to all the bodily changes is alarming, at first. The brain and body need time to adjust. Even though it is hard at first, it gets easier over time. Although the changes may include letting go and moving on, building intentional relationships with supportive loved ones is key. The changes require a commitment and time but the advantages of supporting the community in recovery outweigh the risks returning to old relationships.
Support of Community
While addiction treatment programs are designed to help people overcome addiction, the main goal is to improve quality of life. This means achieving lasting change through the program’s tools and resources. It does not happen overnight. It takes a village, literally, to lift someone up out of addiction. Personal relationships, even with just one person, improve a person’s outlook and helps them develop a sense of motivation towards healing. While substance abuse decreases the quality of life, researchers are looking at ways community support boosts that. Here are some other ways community support is helpful and healing:
- People in recovery need to know how much they’ve earned back from addiction. They may have regained health, employment, personal freedom, and more. This motivates them to stay clean and sober. Motivation is good to build momentum.
- Stress management: social support improves the ability to manage stress and use coping skills positively. Whether a person faces day-to-day stressors of life or copes with the death of a loved one, peer support helps process things healthily
- Hope: everyone needs hope because it keeps them going. Peers provide judgment-free and shame-free spaces to be uniquely themselves without trying to be someone else. They provide open communication on personal issues and work to build a better way forward
Enduring to Hope
It may feel like moving from the old life to the new one is about enduring all the difficult times. This means more than just walking through them. This means maintaining sobriety, having peer support, and not giving into cravings and triggers. Continuing on the path of recovery is a choice made minute by minute. The risk of relapse is reduced and people who attempt recovery are able to make better choices when they check them against friends and peers. Support from this group can turn people’s lives around and literally set them on the path to healing.
How to Find Friends
It is easy to talk about finding peers but harder to do when everything is shifting all around. Peer support communities come in many shapes and sizes. There are opportunities all around to build healthy relationships. Here are a few to get started:
- Invest in alcohol and drug rehab programs. People who stay in treatment have better outcomes than those who drop out early. Look at the investment of time and see what is a good fit but realize that the longer rehab lasts (even outpatient), it has bigger benefits in the end
- Join a recovery group: there are many groups that help people in aftercare. Hobby groups that are centered around sports like softball, volleyball, volunteering, and others help expand the social circle while providing additional opportunities to build healthy relationships and engage with others who similarly struggle
- Look for new surroundings: if all else fails, think about whether the current situation is working out. If it is not, relocating might be a good way to start over again. It may be hard to do but it may be easier to deal with not seeing old friends and places that are a reminder of the life that was so that the life that will be can come into fruition
Addiction recovery is hard all the way around. Peer support makes it more manageable and navigable. The key is to find the right peer support group for a person’s individual needs and seek help from them when needed. There is hope in recovery for a better connection, it just takes time to grow those connections and find the right people to walk the journey within recovery.
Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.
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