The day has come for you to leave rehab and re-enter the world at large. With that monumental step behind you, you are about to move forward into a system that is somewhat unstructured and where support is not always the easiest to come by. While it’s possible to take on your sobriety alone, it will be much easier if you have a support structure in place. Even science backs up the power of support from your peers when facing recovery; even the government’s SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) office acknowledges this fact.
So how do you go about building up support when you’re in recovery? There are plenty of options available to you now; it will be quite worthwhile to investigate all of them.
Examine Your Circle of Friends
Friends are usually the first people we go to when we have any sort of issues, time and time again. This is magnified when it comes to recovering from an addiction. Having one, two or three true friends by your side can provide much needed support when you are having rough times.
How can you tell who is a true friend? Ask yourself a few questions about your social circle. Have they stuck by your side through rough times? Can you effortlessly converse with them about whatever is on your mind? Do they provide quality advice, not simply wait for their turn to talk? Are they honorable, courageous and generous?
Any friends who will pressure you into indulging in your addictions are probably not the friends you want around in recovery. Even if these friends say they will support you and will not force you, the presence of addicts and drug use is not going to support your sober life. You put yourself at risk by hanging out with them; thus it’s probably in your best interest to explore other social routes.
Take up a hobby or activity that encourages healthy living and a substance-free life, such as yoga, weight training or running. As you enjoy these activities, you will start to make friends with others at the gym or yoga studio or on the track. Develop new friendships based on health, instead of the sharing of substances.
Expand Your Social Networks
Social networking sites have become so rampantly popular that almost everyone has them. Thanks to their practical ubiquity, it is now easier than ever to find support, when you need it most. With these social networks, you can seek help when you are alone at your computer. Many addicts state that they need support the most when they are alone, as this is when the minds tends to wander. Instead of going down a dark thought path, take your worries and concerns to your online social network to receive immediate help and advice.
Every social networking site has specific groups and pages that you can join; Facebook most predominantly, but Google Plus and others offer similar avenues. Seek out online support groups that are private, so that you have the comfort of being able to spill your guts without everyone else online knowing. Find a group that caters exactly to your specific needs. If you are in recovery for alcohol abuse, seek a group that is specifically designed for helping you with an alcohol-free life.
Keep in mind, though, that in no way should an online support group be a substitute for the personal interaction of a traditional, in-person support group.
How to Find A Support Group
Support groups exist solely to help you in your recovery. A support group is a gathering of people who share a similar story and journey, regardless of the walk of life they might come from. This may be a struggle with alcohol, narcotics or a variety of other addictions (sex, shopping, etc.) A trained counselor proctors these groups.
It is highly advised to attend a support group at least once per week. This will provide you with encouragement for the rest of the week. You will be able to lean on your friends and online social networks if needed throughout the week while you await the next meeting.
There are several ways to find a support group. If you attended a rehab facility, chances are they have already provided you with information about ongoing support. If they did not, contact them and ask if they have any groups they recommend.
You may also find support groups advertising on bulletin boards in community centers and churches. Many times, these are where the groups meet. Support groups can also be found online. Use your preferred search engine to run a search for “support group” along with your zip code. Also include what you are seeking support for, such as alcohol or anger management. This will compile a list of related support groups in your area.
It can be daunting to enter a support group, but have courage in knowing that they exist solely to help you. Your presence will likely help others in that group, too. Support groups are designed as safe social refuges for people recovering from or battling an ailment or condition to seek shelter in. Between a close circle of friends, online social networks and traditional support groups – you will be able to find all the support you need to help you along the path of sobriety and recovery.
Image by Parker Michael Knight