Few experiences are as isolating as recovering from a serious drug or alcohol addiction. There remains an extremely strong stigma against people who get substance use disorders (SUD). This stigma often causes these individuals tend to stick with each other as well as with people who enable their continued substance abuse.
When someone with an SUD enters a rehab program, they will have to sacrifice these bonds. While often genuine and born of love and shared experiences, these relationships can be nonetheless destructive unless everyone commits to recovery.
This means people recovering from drug and alcohol problems often feel alone almost as soon as they enter rehab. Even as they get better, this sense of isolation can severely hamper their commitment to getting better, and the lack of real human bonds can make it extremely difficult to see the advantages of a sober life.
Below, we’ll explore some of the reasons why recovering individuals need to build new friendships and redefine existing relationships during and after rehab. Call our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers to find programs and recovery groups right for your needs.
1.) They can prevent loneliness
As we mentioned earlier, it can be very difficult for one to stay sober if one feels alone. Partly for this reason, most rehab programs will include some kind of group therapy or workshops composed of people with similar experiences. When group activities are well-implemented, they can help prevent feelings of isolation that inevitably arise during the early part of rehab.
Group therapy with people who have similar problems is not the only way to finding these relationships. However, group therapy provides a unique advantage, as recovering individuals can more easily find other people who truly understand what they’ve been through, having experienced much the same things themselves. This means that recovering individuals do not have to rely on old relationships with enablers to meet their basic need to be understood.
2.) They provide an alternative to negative relationships
Recovering individuals may hard it difficult to veer away from old patterns of drug and alcohol misuse if their relationships remain the same. Relationships with people who enable substance misuse or create traumas that lead to it may have to be redefined completely, put on hold, or cut off altogether if the individual wants to maximize their chances of sobriety.
However, these relationships, while dysfunctional, may be important to the individual in other ways. Alternatives to these relationships may be necessary to fill the voids that would be left after removing them from one’s life. While recovery groups are an obvious place to try to expand one’s network, one can also find positive relationships in their workplace, through hobbies, or even online groups.
3.) They make it easier to let off some steam
We all need people that we could talk to. It’s usually not enough to simply rely on one’s therapist or your recovery groups for this, as there will always be aspects of one’s life that only specific people could relate to. Unfortunately, leaving these issues unaddressed can lead to anxiety, which can trigger substance misuse if left unattended.
If something in your life is bothering you that you think you couldn’t readily share with your therapist, you could consider talking to your priest, pastor, or rabbi. You can also try reconnecting with old friends and colleagues who you feel could provide you with an insight into what’s bothering you. These don’t necessarily have to be people who know about your situation with drugs and alcohol, so long as they can give you an idea of how to approach the issue that’s making you anxious.
4.) Personal networks can be a source of productive peer pressure
It’s easier to commit to recovery if one feels personally responsible to other people. Some recovering individuals may choose to be personally responsible to their families. Some may choose to get better so that they can be a better example for their community. Others may even focus on helping a rescued animal live a better life.
It doesn’t matter whomever one chooses to be responsible to, so long as they can help one reaffirm their commitment to recovery. What is important, however, is that recovering individuals can find relationships that they value in a way that helps their motivation to be better.
5.) Wider personal networks can help with life after recovery
Enjoying a better life after rehab can only improve your chances of a sustainable recovery. The positive relationships you build during your rehab period can be key to a better job or a more fulfilling life afterward.
Surrounding yourself with people who can help you become the best at what you can be won’t always be easy. However, it should be much more preferable to a constant cycle of relapses, later on.
Building one’s personal networks during and after rehab is an underrated way of maximizing the gains one makes during recovery. One shouldn’t be afraid to venture outside recovery groups either. Positive, recovery-affirming relationships could be found everywhere, provided you keep looking. Good luck, and stay sober!