Recovery proceeds on a continuum. The journey begins when you enter treatment and discontinue use of the substance, but rehab is only the launch pad to recovery. To achieve and maintain a long-term substance-free life involves cultivating a sober living network, consisting of family and friends, recovery groups, mentors or sponsors, counselors, and pastors. These individuals surround you with invisible scaffolding, supporting you as you dodge and weave your way through the sometimes-rocky landscape of recovery.
Creating a substance-free lifestyle starts with your decision to discontinue unhealthy habits and gains momentum through the support of a loving sober support network. These individuals want you to succeed in recovery and will motivate you to do the work to create lasting change. Most importantly, your support posse will be right there for you during the times recovery success is threatened, guiding you through the challenge.
Why a Sober Support System is Essential in Recovery
Although one’s recovery journey is unique to each individual person, there is a common denominator: Social support is vital if recovery is to succeed. A sober support system provides access to people who truly care about you reaching your recovery goals. They are there, willing to stand in the gap to assist in protecting your sobriety. Benefits of having a sober support system include:
- You surround yourself with healthy individuals. The people you invite into your sphere will also be committed to sobriety, and you motivate and inspire each other.
- They are willing to listen. Having just one or two trusted confidantes who are willing and available to listen when you are going through a rough patch is often enough to pull you through.
- They provide a lifeline. When facing triggers or cravings, it is essential to have a strong support system you can reach out to at any time of the day. They can guide you to a meeting or a therapy session, or just sit with you until it passes.
- It reduces stress. In the early phase of recovery it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the changes in your life. Having a loving support community offers peace of mind, knowing they are there for you and that you are not alone.
- It keeps you accountable. Having people personally engaged in your recovery helps keep you accountable. These individuals are emotionally invested in your recovery success, and knowing that sets up a powerful deterrent against disappointing them.
How to Create a Sober Network
Creating a sober network is a selective and intentional process, pulling together a supportive community of individuals who all share the same interest—helping you remain squarely focused on achieving a lasting recovery. Your sober network will become your first line of defense against the obstacles that challenge recovery, so select carefully.
Before a sober network can be effective it is critical that you initially cull the old friendships, removing those still actively involved in substance use or who are otherwise not supportive of your recovery from your life. Once the path is cleared, take these steps to build a sober network:
- Select family and friends who are 100% supportive of your recovery. They will need to be available to you during both the good times and the inevitable challenging episodes.
- Attend recovery meetings. These communities offer ample opportunities to meet new friends who will double as sober supports. The meetings have phone lists of those members who are open to providing recovery support when needed.
- Get a sponsor. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have sponsors available for guiding newcomers in early recovery. A sponsor not only provides continual access to input and guidance, but having a sponsor helps you remain accountable.
- Continue outpatient therapy. Ongoing individual and group therapy sessions are an excellent source of recovery care and support. Therapists can coach you through a setback or challenge, and group sessions can offer additional peer support.
- Consider sober living. Not everyone has a supportive home environment to return to. In this case, sober living housing provides structure and support within a substance-free living space, which can also increase accountability in recovery.
- Participate in sober activities. A great way to build your sober network is through socializing. There are multiple sober Meetup groups to check out, so find one that shares an interest of yours and build some new sober friendships.
While it takes some time to cultivate a solid support base, be patient and you will boost your chances of recovery success. By expanding your support circle you will be simultaneously building a new healthy life for yourself in recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is a luxury residential treatment center for individuals desiring freedom from a substance use disorder. For more information about our comprehensive program, please reach out to the team today at (866) 313-6307.