Everyone’s recovery journey is different, but most people struggle to have a successful recovery without a support system that they can rely on. While it is important to learn management skills that will help you control your reactions, emotions, and behaviors when engaging in stressful situations, a support system can hold you accountable for your actions and help you stay motivated during difficult times in your recovery. It’s especially important to involve mental health professionals in your recovery so that they can guide you to make healthier choices.
Sober Living Houses
Sober living housing (SLH) are environments where people in recovery can abstain from alcohol and drugs by living in an alcohol and drug-free environment. Sober living housing is not funded by federal, state, or local government, which allows for sober living houses to function on a less restricted budget. Residents of sober living are typically required to pay rent, attend a school or find work, abstain from drugs and alcohol, attend house meetings, and sometimes participate in a 12-Step program. Sober living houses often share similar philosophies with 12-Steps programs. Specifically, they both believe in giving back to the community. People who have been in sober living houses for a longer period than their peers are expected to provide support for newcomers.
The biggest benefit for sober living houses is that they provide a community of people who may be experiencing similar struggles as you, which can help you grow your support system. Studies show that people who have support systems with a higher number of individuals who abstain from drugs and alcohol consumption tend to have more successful recoveries and a higher chance of avoiding relapse.
Unlike halfway houses, which are government-funded, sober living houses do not require people to participate or complete a rehabilitation program. Sober living houses also do not have a maximum length of stay, allowing you to stay as long as you may need to feel confident in your ability to transition to an independent living situation. Transitions are a difficult part of the recovery process because they might include entering stressful or triggering situations. While sober living houses do not provide professional guidance, it allows people to live in a space that is structured but also encourages independence.
Community Support Groups
Community support groups can also provide you a supportive environment and understanding of the struggles that you may be going through. Support groups give people the opportunity to discuss their struggles in a safe and non-judgemental space. Support groups are also important for building an understanding support system and meeting people who will be able to provide you a shoulder to lean on in times of need.
Many support groups use the 12-Step program, which is based on spirituality. You may find that a spiritual connection may help you during difficult times in your recovery. However, while people in 12-Step programs don’t necessarily have to be religious to participate, you might find the spirituality aspect difficult to relate to. In this case, you’ll want to find support groups that don’t participate in the 12-Step philosophy, such as SMART Recovery, Women For Sobriety, Life Ring, and Moderation Management. These programs tend to focus on behavior management and self-empowerment.
If you are still hesitant to attend support groups due to the pandemic, there are several online sources and virtual groups that may help you through the recovery process. These groups can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) website and include Alcohol Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Reddit Recovery, and more.
Engaging With Your Peers
Once you put yourself in environments where you are surrounded by your peers, the next step is finding a way to engage and connect with them. Creating a support system requires emotional networking. It’s important that you make your peers aware of your current emotional situation, as well as potential triggers and stressors that you may have. Being vulnerable and opening up about personal experiences can help you build a trusting relationship with your peers, let go of painful experiences, and give back to your community by providing support for others.
Connecting With Mental Health Professionals
While engaging with peers is an important part of the recovery process, having a personal connection with a mental health professional will help you manage your substance use symptoms and behaviors. Mental health professionals have the necessary knowledge and experience to guide you through your recovery journey by potentially helping you find jobs, mend relationships, learn exit strategies to leave toxic relationships or environments, and provide tips and tools to manage your reactions in stressful situations. A mental health professional can provide you with more permanent solutions that will lead to healthier emotional behaviors and habits.
Connecting with a mental health professional may take time. It can take many first therapy appointments before finding someone who you feel comfortable opening up to, who you can trust, and who you can easily communicate with. A mental health professional should be able to cater to your specific needs and skillsets to create realistic solutions to help you with your needs.
The recovery process does not end with the completion of rehabilitation treatment. Substance use disorder is an ongoing chronic illness that will require you to continuously seek out different types of support. Sober living environments and support groups can provide you with an opportunity to connect with your peers. However, being able to rely on a support system cannot replace the care that a mental health professional can give you.
At Shoreline Recovery Center, we understand the importance of aftercare and our professionals are dedicated to making sure our clients are prepared for the next step in their recovery journey. We understand that every person’s recovery process is different and are determined to create treatment plans and provide aftercare advice that is specific to each of our clients’ needs. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder, please call us at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about our programs.