Recovery is more than abstaining from drug or alcohol use; long-term recovery is rooted in a healthy lifestyle not dependent on substance use. Positive relationships, part of a healthy lifestyle, can help you on your recovery path. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and your sobriety and building that network is an excellent way to stay strong and keep your recovery efforts active.
Building a strong, sober support network is not something you can obtain passively. Often, those in early recovery from substance use disorder find themselves feeling estranged from sober family and friends, whether or not this is the case. Support, then, is earned when the effort to gain it is made. What follows is a series of steps to build lasting relationships.
1. Figure out what kind of support you need.
If you’ve completed a detox or residential treatment program, you have most likely participated in many individual and group therapy sessions. These sessions can guide you in the right direction when it comes to figuring out what sort of support you need in early and continuing recovery. Self-exploration can also help with this; working the steps, reading addiction-oriented literature, and journaling are good examples.
2. Ask for support.
If you want help, ask for it. Sober friends and family members may want to help you but aren’t sure how. They may be unsure whether you want their help at all. Don’t just ask for assistance, though; let those close to you know exactly how they can aid in your recovery efforts. Be specific. How often do you want contact with them? Who should contact whom? Are there any boundaries you want to set? Is there anything else you want them to know?
Also, be sincere in asking for support. If you find yourself making the request just to placate a parent or friend, you might consider honing in on how to make your delivery genuine.
3. Exercise honesty and patience.
If something isn’t working, be upfront about it. This is true for yourself and for others. You may have requested a specific kind of support from someone and found that it’s not helping you or them. Maybe they misunderstood what you described and it would do well for both of you to revisit how they can best help.
Don’t mistake something not working for not giving it enough time; patience is key. Just as recovery doesn’t happen overnight, a support network won’t build itself on the same timeline, so don’t place unfair pressures or expectations on yourself or on others.
You asked for support, and your network is strong and responding well… so do them the same courtesy. Take their calls, or at least take a moment to let them know you’re okay. Let them know that you appreciate them and the time and effort they’re taking to be there for you.
A strong support network is built on trust so show those in yours that they can trust you. Answer questions about your recovery and yourself honestly; don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear. Lying or embellishing the truth won’t help anything, so avoid dishonesty.
Don’t slack on maintenance.
Building a strong, sober support network does no good if you don’t maintain it. Honesty, patience, and reciprocation, as well as demonstrated dedication to sobriety, are the keys to success when it comes to network maintenance.
If you or someone you care about is struggling to build a strong support network because of active addiction, we’re here to help. Reach out today to Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound to take the next step.