Enrolling in a rehab program is perhaps the most pivotal, actionable step an addict can take toward recovery. However, the journey does not end once a program participant graduates from a rehab program. In fact, building a support network is one of the most important things to do after completing drug or alcohol rehab. Building a solid support network will provide you with a firm foundation for your continued recovery post-treatment.
Your support network may comprise family members who support and encourage your continued abstinence from drugs or alcohol, addiction specialists, and possibly other people who have are also in recovery from substance abuse. The members of your support network are people who will remain committed to helping you remain focused on your recovery goals.
Nevertheless, people often find it challenging to effectively build a support network. Some people are so excited to have completed a rehab program that they don’t fully realize the importance of building a support network. Others have may feel discouraged because they do not have supportive friends and family members, or they may have difficulty meeting new people. Building a solid support network is critical to remaining in recovery; however, there are several resources available to help individuals connect with others and build the relationships that they will need as they aim to remain clean and sober.
The Role of Socialization in Addiction
Addiction counselors report that substance abuse often begins when people use drugs or alcohol to enable them to socialize more easily. Most drugs have one or more characteristics that temporarily diminish anxiety or drown out negative criticism that might otherwise make socializing more difficult. Becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol for socialization can further limit an individual’s natural ability to socialize. Therefore, when the individual decides to abstain from using drugs or alcohol, they may experience even greater anxiety.
For this reason, patients may be more inclined to shy away from investing effort into building a support network when they graduate from rehab and commit to remaining clean and sober. Nevertheless, it is necessary to invest time, effort, and energy into building a strong, positive, healthy social network even if it requires moving beyond your typical comfort zone.
Identifying Compatible People for Your Support Network
When you are new to recovery, you may find it challenging to determine who would be a good fit for your support network. Begin by creating a list of personal traits individuals who support your recovery should possess. Members of your support network may have different personalities. However, they should all encourage your decision to enter recovery.
These people should generally avoid inviting you to settings that may trigger your tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol. They should avoid exposing you to known stressors that may trigger a relapse. Members of your support network should hold you accountable. They should also avoid engaging in behavior that may make it easier for you to relapse or may increase the likelihood of relapse.
Creating a Social Network Based on Existing Relationships
People with whom you already have a relationship may be good candidates to be in your support network. Family members may be the most supportive allies in your recovery. Your family members have known you longer than anyone else and have likely witnessed your battle against substance abuse and addiction first-hand. However, in some cases, family members may have addictions or engage in behavior that may have contributed to your addiction prior to you entering rehab. If your family members are unable to support and encourage you in your life of recovery, you can build a more supportive network through other potentially more reliable means.
Meeting New People Through Recovery Groups
Chances are that you were introduced to the concept of recovery groups and may have even joined a group prior to graduating from your treatment program. Recovery groups provide environments in which you may connect with other people who are in recovery. Some group members are more experienced and have completed rehab many years ago while others are more recent graduates from a drug or alcohol treatment program.
There are recovery groups for people of different religions, cultural backgrounds, and professions in addition to more general recovery groups. For example, SMART Recovery is a group that appeals to people with whom the spiritual nature of the traditional 12-Step program does not resonate. In contrast, Celebrate Recovery is a Bible-focused recovery group. Refuge Recovery incorporates the core practices and principles of Buddhism.
Community groups for people in recovery usually provide a closed, confidential setting in which group members may feel comfortable communicating openly and forming supportive connections with other members. Attending recovery group meetings will help provide the accountability, support, and sense of community you need to help you remain clean and sober.
Your Network Should Include Addiction Professionals
The path of recovery generally includes a variety of counselors, doctors, and advisors. These professionals play an important role in helping you maintain your life of recovery and stay healthy. If possible, you should continue to work with a therapist or counselor and other health care practitioners to receive guidance and monitor your overall well-being as you continue in recovery. Your addiction and health care professionals are people you can call when you have general questions or concerns about your sobriety and health.
Participate in Healthy Communal Activities
Apart from attending recovery meetings, you should also participate in other healthy social activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Attending group workouts at a local park or gym, taking a class to expand your general knowledge, and volunteering will afford you opportunities to interact with like-minded people and to potentially meet others who may ultimately become members of your support network.
It is important to remember that not everyone you meet will be a good fit. Therefore, you should try not to get discouraged as you meet new people. Focus on participating in activities that will help you become the healthiest version of yourself, and you will attract like-minded people. Remember to be careful, proceed slowly, and use discernment when meeting new people and deciding whether they are compatible with the new direction your life is taking in recovery.
Repair Quality Relationships Damaged by Addiction
Many addicts burn bridges throughout the course of their addiction. If you have damaged a relationship that was positive and healthy prior to your substance abuse, you may be able to repair the relationship. Mending damaged relationships is typically not an easy process as addicts often destroy the trust in the relationship.
Repairing broken relationships requires honest, sincere apologies, remaining open, and listening to the other party. Knowing that you are sincere about your recovery may allow the other person to be receptive to communicating with you and eventually trusting you again. If you are able to repair broken healthy relationships, you may be able to regain a member of your support network who will appreciate your decision to get clean and sober and encourage you to remain on your new, healthy path.
Maintaining Healthy Relationships with Members of Your Support Network
As you establish your support network, it is important to do your part to maintain healthy relationships with those who support and encourage you. People often mistakenly assume that the people who are in their support network automatically know what they need. Speaking with your addiction and mental health counselors and doing independent research on common post-treatment needs and challenges will help you identify traits that you should look for in others and anticipate ways that your support network can potentially help you. Communicating your recovery needs and discussing the nature of your relationship with members of your support network can also help you avoid potential misunderstandings.
If members of your support network would also like to learn about the recovery process and ways that they can support you, direct them to information sources, including the specialists at your treatment center. Rehab centers often offer couples and family counseling and are typically able to educate the people who surround individuals who have struggled with substance abuse.
Your Support Group May Require Time and Patience
Even people who readily extend themselves to support your recovery post-rehab may require considerable time and patience to learn how to support you. Therefore, you should normalize clear, open communication and always communicate your needs while you allow the members of your support network to learn and adjust. You should also become more responsive and be willing to answer the phone or otherwise provide a timely response when a member of your support network reaches out to you to inquire about your well-being.
In addition to responding, it is critical that you become comfortable reaching out, communicating your struggles, and clearly expressing your need for help if you encounter times when your stress levels are high or you may otherwise be triggered to relapse or engage in unhealthy behavior. Be prepared to be willing to forgive minor mistakes that the people who would like to support you may make as they learn how to be there for you.
Celebrate Your Support Network
Because most members of your support network will likely be learning how to support someone in recovery for the first time, they will need to know when they doing things correctly. Always recognize the people you have asked to support you when they behave in a manner that is helpful to you or when they otherwise make you feel valued and encouraged as you navigate your recovery. Sometimes, a quick thank you may be enough while at other times you may wish to communicate in greater detail how the individual helped and supported you.
Additional Benefits to Building a Support Network
Your support network will provide you more than a group of people you can call. As you expand your horizons and meet new people, you will improve your likelihood of finding new, positive opportunities that can lead to employment, access to helpful resources, and healthy, valuable personal relationships.
As you connect with others who are in recovery, you will likely find yourself feeling more hopeful, optimistic, and inspired about your own life in treatment. In addition to connecting with others who are in recovery, sharing your experiences with trusted people who have never experienced addiction will gradually reduce the social stigma that many addicts encounter. Working to build and expand your support network will help you become a healthier, more active member of your community.
A Trusted Resource in Your Community
With rehab facilities located throughout New Hampshire, Granite Recovery Center offers residential and outpatient treatment to individuals who are seeking treatment for alcohol or drug abuse. In addition to providing proven 12 Steps-based curricula, our treatment centers offer an extensive selection of program options for people from virtually every walk of life.
Through our programs, you or your loved one have opportunities to form meaningful, lasting relationships with people who are also committed to living life in recovery. We offer extended care and sober living environments to help our program graduates transition from life at the rehab center to a more open setting that still provides structure and therapy while further solidifying sober living concepts.
If you or the members of your family require information on rehab, post-treatment recovery, or support networks, we are available to support you wherever you are in your journey. Contact us to speak with one of our addiction specialists today at 855.712.7784.