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The Importance of a Recovery Support System

The Importance of a Recovery Support System

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Addiction recovery can seem like a lonely process. You may feel isolated, triggering, and potentially leading to negative thoughts and behaviors. One of the most important aspects of your addiction recovery is developing a strong support system of individuals who hold you accountable, want to help you, and can offer you a sense of belonging and connection.  

Although you may feel like the only one struggling with addiction recovery, the recovery journey should never be navigated alone. There are always people in your personal life and the recovery community who want to help you navigate this journey.

Why do I need a support system in my recovery journey?

Positive peer pressure: Peer pressure is one of the most common contributors to the development of an addiction. More specifically, when there is substance use and abuse in your peer group, you become far more likely to begin abusing those same substances. Then, over time, that substance abuse turns into substance abuse, which can become a substance use disorder, otherwise known as addiction.  

But what if the opposite was true, meaning that a person’s peer group encouraged sobriety instead of substance abuse? 

A support system is a source of positive peer pressure. Rather than encouraging bad decisions, they encourage positive decisions and progress. In short, a support group is a positive reinforcement for your recovery. 

A life raft in dire times: We are naturally social creatures, and while the extent of how much we socialize varies from person to person, the vast majority of us have emotional and psychological needs best addressed through interpersonal interactions. This especially holds when it comes to significant challenges and difficulties, especially during your recovery journey. You may be experiencing warning signs associated with relapse, negative feelings, self-doubt, or other challenges and difficulties related to your recovery.  

During this time of need, whether it is family support, the support of close friends, your therapist, or a recovery support group, you will need people to help lift you when you feel torn down. Simply being there when the proverbial road gets bumpy does a lot to strengthen a person’s conviction, especially when it comes to addiction recovery.

A listening ear: If you ever sat through a therapy session, then you most likely experienced the relief of venting to your therapist. Talk therapy is a way to vent and get things off your chest because talking about your thoughts, feelings, and problems is cathartic. Talking is a way to liberate your emotions attached to your bad experiences. Just like talking to a therapist (often part of your support system), talking to your support system can help you solve problems.  

Talking things through can help you realize something new about yourself, form new connections, and strengthen previous connections. A support system is a group of people close to you who are there to listen when you need it. Even if they don’t have helpful advice, just listening can evoke much of the same catharsis you feel after a session with your therapist. Your support system is a soundboard for your recovery.

Who do you want in your support system?

Personal support systems may include: 

  1. Family members and relatives 
  2. Friends  
  3. Neighbors 
  4. Members of organizations you’re a part of, like churches or clubs

For personal support systems, it may be a good idea to spend a little time thinking about the people you trust as a source of support in your life. You don’t want these people giving you bad advice, not prioritizing your recovery, gossiping about you, or shaming or judging you. You want to choose your personal support system wisely.

Recovery support systems are groups designed specifically for those in substance use disorder recovery, such as: 

  1. 12-step programs 
  2. Recovery and treatment programs 
  3. In-person and virtual support groups 
  4. Your therapist

Some people might choose to only use recovery support systems on a short-term basis during their active recovery. Others may incorporate recovery support systems into their lives for many years.

Online support groups

If attending in-person meetings is a challenge for you, there are plenty of online and virtual options:

  1. Reddit forums. On recovery subreddits like r/stopdrinking and r/redditorsinrecovery, Redditors can anonymously ask for advice, share their experiences, and find support. 
  2. Soberistas. This is an international online community specifically for women in recovery from alcohol use disorder. 
  3. Sober Recovery. This is an online forum for anyone recovering from substance use disorder. 
  4. In The Rooms. A free online recovery tool, In The Rooms, offers more than 100 weekly virtual meetings, ranging from a 12-step approach to more wellness-focused paths.

Recovery Apps

  1. Connections. The first evidence-based app, Connections, provides social engagement, medical referrals, virtual therapy, and progress tracking.  
  2. I Am Sober. You can connect to a recovery community and track your process while learning new habits.  
  3. Sober Grid. The largest app-based “sober community,” Sober Grid, offers a personalized resource for tracking and sharing your recovery process.  
  4. SoberTool. In addition to tracking recovery progress and money saved, SoberTool sends users motivational messages.  
  5. Recovery Box. This app was created to offer users a creative, personalized approach to recovering from substance use disorders and eating disorders.  
  6. Tempest. A “digital alcohol treatment program” in an app, Tempest offers expert-led lessons, a supportive community, and other tools to help people in recovery from alcohol use disorder.

Finding your recovery support system may take some time and trial and error. You may not gel with everyone and may not find comfort in certain groups, and that is okay. Take your time meeting people and going to meetings until you feel supported and safe by those you surround yourself with.  

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