Seeking help and saying you feel vulnerable can be two of the hardest things to do. When it comes to health, why not use every resource available? A strong support network is critical for long-term recovery from substance use, mental illness, and other conditions.
The perfect support system looks a little different for everyone, depending on a range of factors. Support systems usually involve a healthcare team, people you know personally, and support groups with others going through similar experiences. Attending a detox and rehab center with a ready-made support network, an active alumni community, and an after-care program is an efficient way to approach recovery.
Keep reading to learn more about support systems in addiction treatment, including what makes them so important, different types, and tips for helping your support network help you.
What Is a Support Network?
Your support network includes everyone directly involved with your recovery journey. These people are invested in your sobriety and care about your well-being enough to offer encouragement and comfort whether you make progress or have a bad day.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the quality of a person’s personal relationships is directly related to positive outcomes in addiction recovery. An effective support system might include an expert healthcare team, family members, sober friends, sponsors, group therapy, and online communities.
Health, home, purpose, and community are the four pillars of recovery. Your recovery network supports you in every aspect, from giving you a great therapist and calm home environment, to helping you find a sense of purpose and offering comfort and love.
Why Are Support Systems So Important in Addiction Recovery?
In the past, people thought of addiction recovery as a matter of pulling yourself together or toughening up in the face of challenges. However, social bonds are critical when it comes to reducing stress, increasing feelings of belonging, and boosting your quality of life. Shifting your mindset and changing your attitude are essential for recovery but can be challenging.
Trying to manage those changes alone is unnecessary and makes it significantly harder. A variety of supportive people to turn to makes all the difference.
Types of Support Networks in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
The philosophy of building a support system in recovery is simple: the more, the merrier. Building as much positive reinforcement into your new lifestyle as possible is a recipe for success and ongoing sobriety. If you attend a drug rehab center, it can help you by providing a ready-made support structure and all the tools and resources you need to succeed. Below are potential components of a strong and healthy support network.
Detox and Rehab Community
Substance use disorders impact the brain and body in highly complex ways, making it difficult to see that you have a problem or how severe it might be. People with addictions tend to find comfort in substances or try to solve a problem with substance abuse, and their brain adapts to prioritize it. As such, trying to overcome it alone is often a frustrating cycle of recovery and relapse.
When you become part of a detox and rehabilitation community, you have access to all the latest addiction recovery resources. What’s more, there’s a ready-made support network of peers and health professionals to help you along your way. For most people in long-term recovery, a drug and alcohol treatment facility is the starting point. It’s a kick-start into a healthy routine and lifestyle that’s conducive to long-term recovery.
Support groups are part of the addiction treatment process. Experts recommend that people with substance use disorders continue attending one indefinitely. In these sessions, you and a group of peers discuss your experiences, share your feelings, and learn from one another.
Hearing from others who are going through something similar offers a variety of new perspectives and can help you understand yourself better. Plus, learning how to express your feelings and speak about yourself openly helps you maintain recovery long-term. Recovery programs include:
- 12-step programs
- SMART Recovery
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
- Women for Sobriety (WFS)
Psychotherapy or Counseling
Another core element of recovery is talk therapy where you discuss your mental health and behavior with a qualified professional. Therapists help you understand your triggers and develop coping mechanisms. They also listen to you and offer insights. Common forms of evidence-based therapy used in addiction treatment include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Contingency management
- Family therapy
- Relapse prevention therapy
Alumni Groups and Aftercare Programs
When you choose a rehab facility, make sure it offers aftercare and that you can join an alumni group. That means the facility makes referrals and connects you with resources for continued recovery. Plus, with an alumni group, you can form lifelong bonds and share in successes as everyone progresses along the healing journey.
Issues such as attending appointments on time, location, and personal preference mean that some people prefer to connect with online support groups. While there are certain benefits to in-person sessions, digital communities have helped thousands of people maintain their commitment to recovery.
Sober Living Homes
If you don’t have a safe, calm, and sober environment to return to after an alcohol or drug rehab program, a sober living facility could be the perfect solution. These places usually have curfews, house rules, and regular meetings while offering support with work or education.
If you have a spouse or partner, this person is integral to your recovery journey. Try to help partners understand mental illness and substance abuse, and encourage them to get involved with your treatment. They shouldn’t encourage you to use or be controlling. Instead, they should practice self-care, empathize with you, and be positive about the treatment process.
Supportive Family Members
It’s important to have members of your wider family to confide in. Relying on one person alone isn’t advisable and puts too much strain on that relationship. Instead, aim to confide in and connect with as many supportive family members as you can.
A sober sponsor is a person who has already progressed through recovery and acts as a mentor to people at the beginning of their journey. They guide you through the steps of recovery using the wisdom they gathered on their own journey.
For many people who struggle with addiction, quitting drugs or alcohol means leaving certain friendships behind. It’s critical to have a friend or group of friends who are sober and share a hobby or interest with you. Having people on hand to go to an escape room, hike or bake with makes resisting cravings a little easier.
Family Support Groups
Your support system might also need a support network. Let the people close to you know about support groups such as Al-Anon, Alateen, NAMI, and SMART Recovery Family & Friends.
Tips for Managing Your Personal Support Network
The professionals who help you heal are fully equipped with resources. However, you might need to give your loved ones some guidance. Many people don’t have an up-to-date understanding of addiction or the treatment process, so share resources and follow these tips.
- Be specific when asking for help.
- Try to remain patient with loved ones you’ve had a troubled relationship with in the past.
- Respond when someone checks to see how you are as long as it’s a healthy check-in.
- Offer positive feedback when someone does or says something helpful.
Drug and Alcohol Detox and Rehab in Massachusetts
If you’re ready to make a fresh start and free yourself from the cycle of addiction, get in touch with Mayflower Recovery today at 978-737-7937. Mayflower has an active alumni community that helps and provides one place for support groups and aftercare.