How Does a Strong Support Network Keep You Sober?

February 19, 2014

Rehab centers bring those addicted to drugs or drink some of the way, but former substance abusers routinely describe overcoming their addiction as the single greatest achievement of their lives. Aside from requiring an intense physical commitment, the more difficult battle can be the emotional one.

Sobriety is often described by experts not as a destination, but a constant journey – one is never irrevocably sober, but works on it every single day. It can be incredibly important for those who have struggled with addiction to have someone to turn to during trying moments. This is where a network of support can be crucial in helping those in recovery maintain the sobriety he or she has fought for.

An outside perspective

The nature of addiction can be self-delusional. When under the influence, bad choices are easily rationalized and critical capacities are lessened, so it can be difficult to determine just how serious the abuse is. That is why a network of other people is so crucial. Everyday Health explained that an external support network can break through the web of lies that addicts often build around themselves.

James, a recovering alcoholic, told Everyday Health, “The nature of this disease, which causes us to abuse substances — as well as people, places, and things — is that we have a distorted view of reality. We lie to ourselves and to others. We believe our own lies and, usually, we are the last to know.”

By reaching out to others, those in recovery can identify ways they begin to fall back into their own ways without realizing it.

Building a strong support network

The desperation of addiction can drive people to harm the healthy relationships that they once shared with family and friends, but that doesn’t mean those bridges can’t be rebuilt. While it may not seem like there are a variety of people out there that are willing to listen to the struggles of someone in recovery, just by making an effort, addicts can show that they are serious about their sobriety. The key is directness and openness. Recovery often starts with facing hard truths, and if those are shared with loved ones, they are likely to be much more receptive to calls for assistance.

Everyday Health explained that these conversations do not always have to be like mini-interventions. After all, recovery means moving towards a normal life. Activities like joining a friend for lunch or errands and discussing any struggles can be informal ways of getting support. Also, any regular activity where people who care can be reached like a class or a recreational sport can create a scheduled avenue of communication every week or so.

Another great way to build a strong support network is to connect with others in recovery on various social networks or blog communities (like this one). This will allow anyone in recovery to find a strong community whether it be someone in the next town or halfway across the world. Next week we’ll discuss how social media fits into your recovery plan.

Help from others helps the self

While it can be difficult to overcome the obstacles to building a network, the benefits of doing so are incredibly powerful. Recovery First explained how support groups are not only about receiving encouragement from others, but also sharing the issues that are normally kept bottled up. Stress relief can be critical to keeping a level head focused on sobriety, and letting others know about the struggles of everyday recovery serves as a great release.

The biggest and most well-known benefit of a support group is the option to call someone at any time of the day or night for help. Often known as a “sponsor” within organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, this person is often a fellow recovering addict who can commiserate with all the problems normally encountered along the path to sobriety. When a former addict feels like he or she is in immediate danger of relapsing, the ability to talk to someone who knows his or her mental state can make all the difference.

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