Anyone who’s been through recovery will tell you – one of the first steps to sobriety is to ditch your old party buddies.
The answer is as startling as it is common sense – our community, especially our peers, have a lot of influence over our success. Surround yourself with the right people, and your odds of succeeding in recovery get higher.
How do they do it?
1. Our peers provide us with emotional support in a way that clinicians and outsiders can’t. This means empathy, understanding and concern – that sense of “I’ve been there and I get it,” that a doctor can’t provide. It’s part of what makes us human – the desire to be understood by another person is often part of an addictive cycle; it can also be part of the treatment.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information refers to this important function of the group as its universality – helping members to see that they are not alone and that others have similar problems and were able to overcome them.
By sharing their experiences, peers bring hope to people in recovery and promote a sense of belonging within the community.
— Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
2. Peers can give us informational assistance – instruction or training based on their experiences. This might come in the form of a personal anecdote, testimonial, training or advice that can only come from someone who has been there.
Our friends over at The Fix say that this is the unique superpower of the Peer Recovery Support Specialist – the ability to connect with clients and clue them into which neighborhoods are most supportive to sobriety, or the intake practices of certain rehabs. They’ve got the inside scoop that the general population doesn’t get.
3. Instrumental Support can be crucial to recovery – this means having someone to help with certain day to day tasks that may be overwhelming to someone trying to juggle it all on their own. The additional obligations that a person in recovery may face – like going to meetings, making certain appointments on time, having someone to watch over their children – is more manageable within the right community.
4. Affiliational support is probably the most common type of community support – and it’s what comes to mind when we typically envision peer communities; it’s the connection that might result from grabbing coffee with friends or bonding over shared experiences and meals. Obviously, a sober person no longer finds this need met in their old haunts – bars, clubs, cocktails or partying – and for this reason it’s this kind of community that may be most deeply missed.
There are options, though!
The advent of new spaces for sober communities is becoming more common – like this “sober bar” for recovering alcoholics that has all of the “bar stuff” people miss and bond over (darts, pool, other like-minded people, music) and none of the stuff they don’t want (alcohol).
There’s also a board game cafe that caters to the non-drinking crowd, and of course churches and social groups – like our partners, Teen Challenge and Victory Outreach – that unite community members over common beliefs and experiences.
By taking deliberate steps to engage with the right communities, and intentionally leaving behind unhealthy ones, people in recovery can take back ownership over the factors that influence their success and delete negative influences from their circles.
Would you like to be a member of one of these communities? Simply contact us here and we’ll put you in touch with the right support system for your recovery!