By Terence T. Gorski
CINDY NICHOLS wrote an interesting article for Psych Central on The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety. This article stirred up some ideas that I wanted to share. I also wanted to add to the excellent ideas that she presented.
Addiction is a biopsychosocial illness that is chronic, lifestyle-related, and relapse prone. The pathway to relapse is often marked by high stress, lack of social support for people who understand addiction, and easy access to high risk situations where there is ready availability to the drug of choice, social support for using, and isolation from people who are part of the recovery network. Once the social accountability factor is recovery is gone, the addictive mind of the addict comes into play and go wild romping in the fields of fantasy with alcohol and drug users.
Recovery is not just an individual experience. Because human being are social animals, we need to find other people who can support us in living a sober and responsible life. In an addiction centered culture that is not always easy. Most people are either addicted themselves or support the addictive cultures that surround us.
Recovery requires communication and feedback. We need to be around people who will tell us the truth in a helpful way that will allow us to hear what we are saying and invite us into a conversation. Most people who have not been in recovery get threatened by this level of honest or just don’t get why it’s important. After all, it is hard to fit in a good 10th step inventory (taking a daily review of what happened and correcting things that didn’t go well) while you’re in traffic with a friend rushing to the Casino getting ready for a hot date with the sixth stranger this week.
This is where recovery support groups, many built around the 12-Steps of AA, provide an important social outlet. twelve step programs guidelines (in the form of the 12-Steps), organizational guidelines for running coordinating groups (The 12-Traditions), and a solid and consistent social structure based around regular meetings, sponsorship, and mutual support. There is a rich a varying community of sober and responsible people from all walks of life with a wide variety of interests. It is a sober social network par excel lance. Other support groups such a Women for Recovery and SMART Recovery are also available in manage communities. The Self-Help Group Source-book On-line references over thirty support groups for alcoholism and over 1,100 for just about every major lifestyle related problem that people experience.
Avoid Relapse By Developing A Sober Social Network.
Having a network of people striving to live a sober and responsible life provides social options. It give us a place to look for people who are also building a life that is not centered around alcohol and other drugs. AS these new sober and responsible relationships begin to form, we feel less of a need for out old buddies that we used to drink and use drugs with. It also allows you to change relationships with codependents who have enabled you ongoing addiction.
The people you encounter in 12-step and other support groups are, like you, actively working toward a healthy life and using the tools necessary to stay clean. Associating with other sober people helps you avoid triggers and remain focused on maintaining your sobriety.
As with any important life change, the road to recovery is not always easy. Rather, as you continue to work on your recovery, you are likely to encounter many obstacles and challenges. A sober support group gives you the opportunity to talk through challenges.
Just as unhealthy people can drive you to use drugs and alcohol, a sober support group can help create pressure to make healthy choices. Attending meetings on a regular basis and maintaining a consistent dialogue with your sponsor means knowing that there are a great number of people who do not want you to relapse. This type of pressure can be very helpful as you work to stay clean.
They provide a lifeline during difficult times
Cindy Nichols says this very well in her article: “All recovering addicts face triggers throughout all stages of sobriety. Having access to a sponsor and a group of people you can turn to when you are tempted provides a healthy alternative to succumbing to triggers.”
Cindy also describes the role a sober social network can have in times of trouble or crisis: “Life is full of unplanned events. There is no telling when you may face anger, sadness, or stress because of circumstances that are outside of your control. As you become accustomed to dealing with these feelings in a constructive way, you continue to strengthen your ability to maintain your sobriety, regardless of what life throws at you.”
In working with relapse prone addicts for over forty years, one issue remains constant: those who can develop sober and responsible relationships and learn how to give and receive help are more likely to stay in long-term recovery that those who are isolated or stay connected with their old friends who are heavy drinkers and drug users. Stay sober.
The details of addiction and how to develop a solid recovery plan including sober social networking is explained in the book: Straight Talk About Addiction.
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