Building and Maintaining a Support System
When many think of recovery they think only of abstaining from the use of the problematic substance or stopping the problematic addictive behavior. Recovery is so much more than abstaining. Recovery is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence, as well as wellness, improved health, and quality of life. It is long-term and well-centered. Simply detoxing someone and expecting them to go on and never relapse is unrealistic, the whole person must be treated.
Recovery is not undertaken alone or in a vacuum. One way to maintain recovery is through developing new connections. This means new friends who are clean and sober and often a change of environment and location. These connections can be with family members or others who are supportive. These relationships should be substance free, supportive, and have full honesty. These relationships will be full of individuals who want to see you succeed and will be supportive when needed.
Now the question becomes how to create these relationships. Some find solace in groups or meetings, though this is not an effective source for everyone. Others choose trusted family members or other sober friends to rely on in life. No matter who you choose know that these people will become allies and may have to be the harsh voice of reason at some point. You need to be able to be totally honest with the people in your support group, even when it is difficult. Perhaps you have someone in mind or several people that you feel would fit into this support group. If so then you need to have an open and honest conversation with the individuals. Make sure to make your wishes, needs, and boundaries known as far as what you need as support. Also know that some people who start out in your support group may not be there long term.
Being supportive long term is not something everyone is capable of doing. Some people may become overwhelmed or move away or have life issues of their own that do not allow them to continue being in your life. You should also know that there will be times when you disagree or argue with those in your support group. Be mature enough to apologize if needed or to calmly discuss the issue of contention when needed. You have that right and so do those in your support group.
Supportive groups of people will mean a great deal to your recovery, but the relationship should not be one sided. Be willing to help that person if needed as well. This will help you grow as a person and become stronger over time. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and ask for help and support of others? Are you willing to offer support when you are mentally able to do so without damaging recovery? You may be unsure of the answers at this moment, but know that having a support system in place is imperative in recovery.
Also be aware that a support system needs to be strong, not necessarily large. Having friends and family that are willing to help is more important than having a hundred different people offering advice, so choose wisely. If you already have this support in place take the time to thank them today. They are rooting for you and a simple thanks is always welcomed. Stay strong, you can make it into long recovery if you work at it over time.
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