Life is not meant to be experienced alone. Friends, family, romantic relationships, and a sense of community all play essential roles in physical and mental well-being. If we each lived in our own bubbles of seclusion, we would experience a significant disadvantage in our overall health.
Social support allows us to turn to our family and friends for comfort, advice, encouragement, or a shoulder to cry in. Our relationships broaden our perspectives and help us persevere beyond the traumas and struggles that life may throw our way. Social support is not only essential for enhancing our quality of life, but it is also essential for achieving and sustaining long-term recovery.
Addiction and chronic substance use are challenging battles that may cause an individual to lose their sense of self-worth. Addiction strips a person of self-control, making it so they feel controlled by their triggers and cravings to use substances repeatedly to feel normal. Although the experience of loneliness and isolation can be caused by addiction, it does not simply stop when treatment begins.
Sobriety can also be an isolating experience. It may feel overwhelming to go through recovery as you learn to navigate your triggers and cravings. Recovery encourages you to reflect on your relationships, as many of the connections prior to becoming sober enabled substance use. Social support during recovery is more critical than ever because it acts as a motivator for people to secure their long-term sobriety.
Social Support Encourages Accountability
One of the key factors that social support plays in an individual’s recovery journey is that it encourages them to be held accountable for their actions and behaviors. As difficult as it is to admit when someone is struggling with addiction, having a friend to confide in is valuable to recovery and encourages a reciprocated relationship.
Most of the time, when loved ones admit they are struggling, they have reached a tipping point in their addiction and are ready to accept help. They may not be prepared to seek out or go to treatment, but they acknowledge that their substance use behavior is producing negative consequences. Sometimes, the biggest motivator needed to produce change is being held accountable for your actions by close family members or friends you trust.
Social Support Offers Encouragement
Even when a loved one has not gone through the same trauma or distress that you have, they will be able to offer words of encouragement to help you through your recovery journey. It might be as simple as acknowledging your bad day or as extensive as going to your support group meetings with you. Ultimately, social support offers an incredible amount of encouragement.
Even the acceptance we receive from support groups is vital to our well-being. There is something comforting about talking with others that are going through the same experience as you. Sometimes the intrusive voices inside our heads are too loud, which makes social support an invaluable resource as it works to challenge those negative or harmful voices. Especially in recovery, encouragement is necessary as there will be days where life, recovery, or sobriety may seem unmanageable. Lean in on your support systems during these times and know that those bad days are always temporary.
Social Support Challenges Stigmas
Another important reason why social support is essential in recovery is that it challenges the stigmas associated with mental health or addiction. Some of the harmful stigmas that affect those struggling with addiction are that individuals choose to use substances or that they will never be able to get better. These stigmas are what keep people from receiving treatment or believing in themselves enough to secure long-term sobriety.
Social support provides a safe and nurturing space where people do not have to fear being shamed, guilted, or judged for their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. The most valuable forms of social support are from the ones that love and support us unconditionally. Having unconditional love shown to us from family, friends, significant others, and even therapists can help put into perspective that a person is not defined by their mental health disorder or substance use. Everyone deserves love and encouragement to get to where they want to be, no matter what stigmas serve as obstacles to getting there.
Social Support Sustains Recovery
Social support is crucial because it sustains recovery. Many recovery facilities offer some form of aftercare or alumni programs for clients who have completed treatment programs. These programs are meant to connect clients with other clients working to sustain their long-term recovery. Often, aftercare programs will provide peers and mentors that feel compelled to help one another secure recovery. They have been through similar ventures and challenges, making them a vital source of support and guidance.
Social support is essential in recovery because individuals need a sense of encouragement and accountability to motivate their ability to secure long-term recovery. Social support allows people to feel included and accepted, which is critical to recovery because so many people feel isolated and experience loneliness. Social support also provides a safe space for people to be themselves and share perspectives in a healthy way, without feeling shamed or judged. Social support challenges the stigmas that surround mental health and addiction, making it essential for those both in and outside of recovery. SoCal Mental Health is a treatment center specializing in treating mental health and addiction. We understand that mental health disorders can be chronic and pervasive, which motivates us to encourage the healing process by honoring individual needs. We offer several community support networks to help you during treatment and after. For more information, call us at (714) 328-4760.