Making the decision to pursue addiction recovery is often challenging. The difficulties of recovery are pervasive and often stem from relationships. People often ask themselves, “Who will I spend my time with once I am sober,” “How will my family and friends relate to me,” and/or, “Do I even know anyone else who doesn’t use or drink?” These questions are all valid and common as addiction can be isolating, but recovery does not have to be.
Below are some of the benefits of leaning into the community while recovering from addiction.
- Peers can often have excellent knowledge of tools for starting and maintaining a recovery journey. A consistent challenge that many folks experience when they begin their recovery journey is that they do not always know how to practice or maintain recovery. While not drinking or using is the first step to recovery, building recovery-oriented skills is essential to maintaining recovery. Most recovery-oriented communities have support systems in place that allow peers to mentor and guide those who are new through their recovery journey. Whether it is following a 12-step program or a peer support specialist, establishing mentorship often leads to more sustained recovery outcomes.
- Communities can create an environment of accountability and support. As mentioned before, substance use disorders can be isolating, meaning those who are suffering from substance abuse, do not often have people to lean on for accountability when battling whether or not to use. In a recovery community, people will have others they consistently communicate with who can support them through cravings and urges to use. Also, once sober relationships are built, it can be more challenging to go against commitments that have been made. Lastly, if a relationship is built within a sober community, peers will typically notice emotional or behavioral changes in others and can step in for support before major consequences occur.
- Recovery communities often host alcohol and substance-free social gatherings. Certain times of the year can be rather challenging for those in recovery. Difficult anniversaries, holidays, and changes in season are often more triggering for substance use than other days or periods. To combat these triggering times, there are many community resources for addiction support. These include substance-free social gatherings such as alcathons (ongoing 12-step recovery meetings), sober holiday parties, or general sober events. As sober curiosity has grown in popularity over the past few years, many substance-free events can also be found on social media sites like Meet Up, Instagram, or Facebook.
- Connection in recovery communities fights the isolation may feel throughout their experience of addiction. Many people who experience addiction experience significant isolation. This isolation often stems from damaged relationships and an altered state of mind due to substance abuse. For some, established relationships are in a vulnerable place when they start their recovery journey and will need time to heal. Finding an addiction recovery community can be a place of support from others, while former relationships take the time to heal. Additionally, other sober people will likely be able to relate to feelings of isolation and can validate a newly sober person’s experience.
- Recovery communities are quite diverse so there is a community available for whatever needs you may have. When people think about sober support communities, they often think of 12-step groups like AA or NA. While these groups are widespread and successful, there are now many other well-established sober support communities to choose from. When considering what type of group to join, one may consider how their identity may influence their experience of addiction. For some, connecting with others of the same gender, sexual identity, religion, age, occupation, race, etc. may be needed to feel safe and seen in a recovery group, while others may benefit from hearing the perspectives of those who are different than them.
Abstinence Support Groups
Because there are a wide variety of groups to choose from, it may be useful to attend a few different groups to see what the best fit is for you. Some common groups to choose from include: 12-step groups, SMART Recovery, and Recovery Dharma, however, one can find more nuanced groups via an online search. Also, if you would like the support of a trained therapist, substance-related therapy groups can be found online. If you think a therapy group may be a good fit for you, you can find information about my recovery group here.
It can feel vulnerable and overwhelming to share a recovery journey with a group of unknown people, but this is often the most needed step when seeking sobriety. Allowing others to support your journey in sobriety will likely make your experience more manageable and potentially more meaningful. Joining a supportive community may be the best thing you do for yourself and your recovery.
Written By: Sarah Beerman, LCSW, CADC
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff specializing in therapy and psychiatry services. Clarity Clinic currently offers Medication Management, Therapy, and TMS Services across Illinois. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.