It’s not uncommon for people in recovery to feel alone – like nobody cares about their healing and success. In many cases, friends and family are deeply hurt by the pain that addiction caused them, and the only people that one can rely on are the people who used to abuse substances with them. If this is the type of circumstance you’re in right now, you have to remember that it’s only going to feel this way temporarily; in fact, it will only be a matter of time until you build a group of support around you.
As humans, it’s essential that we build strong connections with people. We’re social creatures. We need people around us to share our problems with, create memories with, plan out the future with, learn from, and more. Previous research has shown that not having social support can become extremely dangerous for our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing – and can even lead to loneliness, depression, and suicidal thoughts. No matter where you’re at in your recovery journey, there are people you can rely on and connect with – sometimes all it takes is becoming open to building connections with the people around you and trying.
Upon entering treatment, you likely felt scared and nervous. It’s a major change – and it’s not part of our human tendencies to be comfortable with change. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is that desire to cling on to those of the past – not only the act of using substances, but also letting go of the people whom you used to use with. As you let go of the negative connections of the past, you’ll find that you’re able to make space for newer connections that benefit your recovery. Once you do find people whom you can connect with in treatment, it can feel like a real connection, a real friendship is there – and that’s when you can truly begin to thrive.
In addiction recovery, there’s often a period of transition – one where people begin to see themselves differently as they begin spending their time around different people who support their recovery. Many consider this an identity shift, as a person goes from viewing themselves as a “person who uses substances” to a “person in recovery”. 12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can greatly help people become acquainted with a new social support group – one that helps them grow and become stronger in recovery.
Recovery is a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, achievements and standstills. During this transition period, you’re going to find other like-minded individuals who are discovering themselves underneath all of the substance abuse, trauma, mental illness, and pain, too. It’s all too often in these 12-Step programs and other addiction recovery-related activities, such as group therapy, that people begin to realize they’re not alone. They’re part of a much larger community of people who are working to get better – and it can be very empowering.
You may even find that through treatment, you’re able to find connections with people that you hadn’t expected before, such as:
- A spiritual leader, such as from a 12-Step program
- Your significant other may understand how to support you better
- A member of your treatment team
- A new friend from group therapy
- One of your family members may step forth to be supportive
These types of relationships can often provide not only emotional support, such as helping each other work through difficult/stressful situations but also informational support, such as tools to lift each other up in recovery. Altogether, social support serves some truly amazing benefits such as:
- Rebuilding a strong social support system after having gone through a major transition, such as recovery
- No longer feeling isolated and alone, because you now have people you can rely upon through the good times and bad
- Establishing a community through which a person can belong to
Someone once stated, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”
Even after your formal treatment program has ended, the people you’ve built connections with can continue to be part of your life. You may find that a small number of people – people who are also working hard for sobriety – want to maintain contact with you and see how you’re doing. You may even decide to continue attending things like 12-Step meetings, just so that you can continue to catch up with your friends in recovery and so that you can add new people to your social support network, too.
For more information on overcoming mental health challenges, addiction, and substance use problems, please call True Recovery at ((844) 744-8783 or visit us online.