The Impact of Supportive Individuals
Getting sober and staying that way is the most important aspect of recovering from an addiction problem. However, becoming clean can also be a challenging part of the process. While recovering substance abusers should certainly draw from their own senses of motivation during recovery, the encouragement of a strong support network can also have a significant impact on a person’s success.
Whether recovering substance abusers already have support networks in place or whether they develop those groups as they move through the process of becoming clean, this group of people can contribute to recovery in numerous ways. Below are some of the most common and significant reasons that a support network is so vital.
Support for Getting Help
The first step most recovering substance abusers take toward recovery involves choosing the right treatment option. And while some substance abusers select their own rehab facility, many family members and close friends are the ones who make this significant decision.
Support groups may also play an important role early on in the process by holding an intervention. An intervention occurs when a substance abusers loved ones come together for a meeting in which they talk to the individual about the extent of the addiction problem. In this meeting, the individual’s loved ones will explain how they’ve been affected by the substance abuse and lay out a plan of treatment for the individual.
An intervention shows substance abusers that numerous people care deeply about them and want them to receive professional help. This is often a highly effective tool for getting someone to agree to enter treatment and become sober.
Participation in Treatment
Many people are under the impression that rehab is an isolating experience that requires a recovering substance abuser to spend time away from friends and family. However, people in rehab often maintain significant contact with their loved ones.
Not all rehab centers require participants to live in the treatment facility. There are numerous outpatient centers around the country that give people in recovery the flexibility to go home at night and spend time with their loved ones. For people who go home and see their support networks every evening, the attitudes and efforts of their loved ones are especially significant.
For example, if someone is working toward sobriety and they go home each evening to a family that tempts them to start using again, treatment will be extremely difficult. However, a supportive network that believes in a person’s goals can help reinforce those principles each night, making recovering abusers stronger for the following day of treatment.
Family and friends can also be involved in certain inpatient treatment programs. Some facilities allow loved ones to have regular visits or even stay overnight with the person in recovery. Specific programs may also require recovering substance abusers to participate in family counseling sessions with their loved ones.
Treatment is an important time in which individuals are learning exactly how to become sober. When support networks are there to champion and encourage the recovering substance abuser, it can make a significant difference in that person’s overall success.
Involvement in Aftercare
Aftercare refers to programs that help recovering users stay sober after they have successfully completed their main courses of treatment. These classes and services are meant to help people in recovery remain sober and avoid relapsing.
Aftercare may involve a variety of programs and services, including:
- Sober living communities
- Job placement assistance
- Financial literacy classes
- Family counseling
- 12-step program meetings
- Continued alcohol education
One of the best ways a support network can help recovering individuals remain sober and avoid relapse is by encouraging them to participate in aftercare services or offering rides to meetings and sessions. Sometimes when people leave rehab they are exposed to former friends who don’t believe in sobriety, triggering risky situations and frequent offers to use again. Aftercare can reinforce all the valuable lessons a person learned in rehab and serve as an ongoing reminder of the best practices for remaining sober.
In addition to simply encouraging recovering abusers to attend these programs and offerings, members of a support network can actually accompany their loved ones. This participation is sometimes required – such as with family counseling sessions – and in other cases the person may simply join in order to show support – such as during a 12-step meeting.
For life skills classes, such as financial literacy and job placement assistance, having a spouse or parent present can actually help a whole family achieve more stability. Because stress is one of the factors that contributes to relapse, having a strong, stable family unit can take a great deal of pressure away from someone in recovery, lowering the risk of relapse.
Encouragement for Substance-Free Activities
People who suffer from substance abuse and addiction often limit their social interaction to events or activities that involve taking that substance. So when those individuals leave treatment, they may be at a loss for what kinds of social outings to become involved with.
They will often rely on their support network to help them break away from the situations that could trigger them to relapse. Members in a support network can start by seeking out new activities that don’t involve substance use in any form. While most activities can be adjusted to become sober activities, exercise and sporting leagues can make good options because people tend to perform better when they are substance-free.
Beyond simply suggesting new outlets, members of a recovering abuser’s support group should also get involved if at all possible. For example, if a recovering substance abuser and his friends participate in a bowling league two nights each week, that means that the recovering individual has two fewer nights that might otherwise be spent around people who don’t support sobriety.
Members of the support group don’t have to act as the person’s only supportive acquaintances. In fact, it’s preferable if they expand the circle of people who are willing to help that individual maintain sobriety. Occasionally if certain members of a support group spend too much time and effort on their friend or family member’s progress, they can become burned out. That’s why it’s important for loved ones to make introductions and help recovering abusers become involved with sober organizations and networks.
There are numerous official and unofficial organized groups of like-minded individuals who are focused on living healthy lives that are free from substance use. Simply connecting a loved one in recovery to a new sober circle of friends could significantly increase the chances that a person will remain sober over the long-term.
Support for a Lifetime of Good Health
With approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. currently in recovery from a substance use problem, it’s important to note that this process will be ongoing but that it is certainly manageable. Just like with anything that takes time, it helps to be surrounded by people who believe in the goal of sobriety and who can champion those efforts.
The members of a strong support network can not only offer positive attitudes, but they can also take proactive, meaningful steps to help a loved one successfully lead a healthy life.