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Building a support network in recovery is essential. Spending time with people who are positive, living life to the fullest without drugs and alcohol, and supportive of you doing the same provides a number of benefits, including:
The more time you spend with people who are living positively, the more positive choices become the norm and the less likely you will be to consider drugs and alcohol as a viable resource for management of stress, boredom, anger, and other issues that arise.
Here are a few ways to build a support network from scratch or bolster the one you have.
Free, readily available almost everywhere in the country, and filled with people at different stages of recovery, 12-Step meetings offer a great resource if you are looking to connect with new people who are interested in making connections as well. Whether you are just starting out in building your support network or looking to meet new people who understand what you are experiencing in recovery, 12-Step meetings and other addiction-focused support groups can be a great place to start.
Similarly, connecting with other support groups that speak to another part of your life can also be a place to connect with people who are seeking positive change. Parenting groups, groups for those diagnosed with a mental or physical disorder that you live with, grief groups, and similar support groups can all provide a forum for meaningful connections with others.
Family members are often the people most deeply hurt by an addiction, and it can be difficult to face the high emotions surrounding those memories and experiences. Though it can feel counterintuitive to come face to face with these rough issues when you are working so hard to remain positive, it can be helpful to allow for some amount of time to continually process through difficult emotions and work toward hopeful solutions in important relationships.
It is important to note, however, that healing will not occur overnight; thus, family members may or may not initially be a great source of support in recovery. However, taking the time to attend family therapy sessions and begin the work of rebuilding those relationships that have played a large role in your life can eventually lead to strong bonds that help you to maintain long-term recovery.
Yoga is a great addition to recovery and an excellent way to meet positive people – and so is a tai chi class or art class. You can learn how to play an instrument or learn Japanese – whatever it is that interests you. Join a gardening collective or a book club, enroll in a community college course, or volunteer at a homework club for kids – anything that is positive, you enjoy doing, and serves to decrease your stress levels will help to put you in contact with other people who are also living a positive life.
Connect with your classmates or others in the group slowly. Unlike recovery support groups, it cannot be assumed that anyone you meet is clean and sober; thus, people you meet outside of the recovery community may with good intention invite you out for a drink or to another activity where drugs and alcohol are present. Instead, choose to socialize at activities that support continued growth in recovery. These activities can generate positive connections that will boost your recovery.
A regular running group, exercise classes at the gym, or a sports team – physical activity is good for your physical and mental health, and it will put you in contact with others who are working to make healthy choices. Better than simply making a personal commitment to a running regimen or regular workouts, connecting with a group of people who are working out regularly can help you make progress on your personal health goals and create positive habits on a long-term basis. When you feel better physically, you will also feel better mentally. This will contribute to your ability to make positive choices in relationships with new people and create friendships or even acquaintanceships that help you to stave off loneliness and stay committed to your recovery.
While friendships and other social connections in recovery are essential to helping you avoid the isolation that can be a trigger for relapse, it is important to remain aware when forging bonds and building sustainable relationships. Some points to remember include