More and more research reveals the benefits of having a community of people around you. This is particularly true when you are attempting to get sober. For instance, a 12-step community can be a shield against the temptation of return to friends who use marijuana or heroin or alcohol.
How Support Can Make a Huge Difference
Having the support of a drug counselor, family, friends, therapist, doctor, and others who are in recovery can make all the difference in the world.
Community gives recovering addicts an opportunity to hear the stories of others, relate to their challenges and successes, as well as find validation for the reasons why they’ve had a difficult life thus far.
Community and relationships that can be found in them significantly boost one’s feeling of being supported and thus enhances one’s ability to face stress. Rather than turning to drugs or drinking when life gets challenging, they can turn to the relationships in their lives.
This fact is backed by research. In fact, a recent study done in 2011 found that drug treatment is an effective means for achieving sobriety when certain factors were in place. The study found that for 300 individuals a residential drug treatment facility was an effective option for those in need of alcohol-free and drug-free housing.
When individuals were involved in 12-step programs, had a strong network of support and were living in a drug free environment, they tended to reach sobriety with few or no relapses. The study reaffirmed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery.
In the lives of participants of the study, improvements were seen in the areas of alcohol and drug use, number of arrests, psychiatric symptoms and employment.
These Factors for a Successful Recovery Include
- high involvement in 12-step meetings (or a form of community)
- little alcohol and drug use among those they are spending time with
- low severity level for any presenting mental illnesses
It’s clear that many studies show staying closely held within a strong network of support and participating in drug treatment can be incredibly life changing. One author who has explored this research is addiction writer Johann Hari. In her book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, she points out that the antidote to addiction is not necessarily focusing on getting sober, but it’s the healing power of human connection.
In fact, having a community and a healthy social network might be one of the preliminary elements to recovery. For instance, when an individual chooses to become sober, they typically attend a treatment center, which immediately includes becoming a part of a health-oriented community.
Then, that community extends to a halfway house and later to a large community of sober living oriented men and women through AA meetings, for example.
And when an individual is finishing his or her out-of-home treatment, another way to extend a healthy network of support is to participate in support groups with others who are on the same journey of sobriety as you are.
If you’re yearning to create a community, you might begin with creating a small circle of support. You might call upon the support of a friend, your therapist, and your primary care physician when you need them.
You might also search for 12-step meetings in your neighborhood. You can also look for other support groups to attend. Slowly, over time, your relationships with others who attend these groups will deepen. You might begin to feel more and more supported in your recovery, and you might find that this was the most pivotal part of successfully staying sober.
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