Going through recovery can be a challenging and lonely road. Inevitably, recovery isolates us from communities we have previously engaged in. Throughout the process of recovery, there are many ups and downs that we do not always have the tools to persevere beyond. This is why community support, which looks different for each person, can be very valuable in this process.
What Is Community?
While it may look different for everyone, having a community means having people you can count on for support. In recovery, some types of community support may come from the following:
Family can include immediate family, extended family, and chosen family. This community may not fully understand the scope of your recovery and, depending on your situation, may not be available or helpful in recovery. However, for some people, family members can be a community to lean on during recovery.
There are many options available in terms of community support groups. These groups commonly comprise individuals at multiple and various points in the recovery process. Twelve-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are both examples of this type of support. These groups often utilize peer support, the process of giving and receiving advice and information to and from others who are in recovery.
Peer Support During Recovery
Most treatment programs are a combination of formalized intervention and peer support, making it challenging to separate the benefits of each individually. Despite this challenge, multiple studies have found that peer support helps in the following ways:
- Improves treatment engagement
- Decreases substance use
- Decreases risky behavior
- Helps with cravings
- Improves self-efficacy
In recovery, there may be times when support is needed and times when it is not as vital. However, the nature of recovery is such that it can be challenging to see the reality of our behavior.
Having a community that understands what it feels like to be in recovery and can communicate how our behavior looks is beneficial. Recovery may not always be perfect, but sharing the journey with others who truly understand what you are going through can help you to reconnect and maintain your path of healing.
Community in Long-Term Recovery
Many factors that improve short-term recovery can also be helpful in long-term recovery; community support is one of these factors. Studies have shown that the availability of social and community resources is a key factor in healing from substance abuse and is associated with the success of long-term recovery.
0During the initial phases of recovery, it is important to look at what current support structures are available. For some, there may be a structure in place that will provide the support needed for recovery, but this is not true for all. It is important that the community you place yourself in supports your decision for recovery. This means that some may find they need to leave a community they are involved in and rebuild a community with others who will aid them in their journey of recovery.
Finding Community Support
Building a new community for support can be challenging and scary. It involves making changes in our social habits and putting ourselves into situations that can be intimidating.
When we meet new people, we spend time and energy getting to know them. To build real support need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share the highs and lows of our lives. Once we are open, sharing wins and losses, and able to hear the ups and downs of others’ lives, we can be a part of a community where we are supported and can supply support for others.
Benefits of Finding a Community in Recovery
Finding a community of people who can support you is extremely important on the path of recovery. While it may seem tempting to go through recovery alone, it is important to create relationships and trust before you need them. When the time comes, as it does for everyone, that support is needed, it will be readily available. The convenience makes it more likely to utilize support and sustain recovery.
If you or a loved one have tried to find a community and did not like the group or mesh well with others, that’s okay. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to connect with a group and different people. If it doesn’t feel right, move on and try another to see if it’s a good fit.
While it is important to give support groups and other communities a fair chance, the support needs to feel sustainable for you. However, if you have to choose between no community or a community that is not a perfect fit, any community is better than none. A group of people who can support you when recovery is challenging is vital for sustaining long-term recovery.
Working through the recovery process can be complex and create many different challenges at different stages of the process. Facing these challenges alone, while often tempting, has been shown not to be effective in sustaining recovery. Finding community support in a way that works for you is vital to your recovery. While it may be uncomfortable at first, learning to listen and share with like-minded people can help ease discomfort during recovery. Educating yourself on the tools that have been shown to be effective for long-term recovery and integrating these tools into our own processes, community support included, can significantly benefit you. At 449 Recovery, we can help provide direction and tools on the path of recovery, helping you to find community and support from people who genuinely understand. For more information on the programs we offer, call 449 Recovery at (949) 435-7449.