Staying sober often requires changing almost every aspect of your life.
This is a challenge that’s impossible to complete alone, which is why it’s vital that you work to develop a strong sober support network.
Your sober support network is comprised of people who can help you through the various challenges you’ll face in the early stages of sobriety: handling triggers, managing cravings, alleviating boredom, finding ways to relieve stress, etc. Some of these people may know your full recovery story, while others may only know a few basic details. It’s up to you to decide how much information to share.
Self-help 12-Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can help you stay focused on your recovery goals after leaving residential treatment. These groups typically meet several times per week, with no charge to participate. All information shared is confidential, but you’re free to just listen to others if that’s how you feel the most comfortable.
One important benefit of attending a 12-Step group is that you can be matched with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone established in their sobriety who provides guidance and support as you’re working through the steps and facing specific challenges in your recovery. Sponsors are volunteering their time, but typically view this relationship as a chance to give back to those in need.
Your relationships with family members may be somewhat strained because of your actions when you were actively using. However, these individuals are likely to be heavily invested in your recovery. Assuming they are not actively using addictive substances themselves, they want to see you sober. Letting them play a role in supporting your recovery can be an important step towards rebuilding trust.
Friends members who’ve been through the recovery process themselves will undoubtedly be the strongest source of support, but anyone who is a compassionate and empathetic listener can help you stay motivated as you work through the various steps of recovery. Additionally, individuals who model healthy lifestyle choices such as cooking nutritious meals and exercising regularly can help you continue the wellness-focused lifestyle you learned in treatment.
Socializing with people who are actively abusing drugs and alcohol is not recommended. However, recovery is a great time to reconnect with old friends and focus on building new relationships. Joining a recreational sports league, taking a class focused on a favorite hobby or special interest, signing up for a community theater production, or striking up a conversation at a local park are just a few of the many way to expand your social circle. These new friendships can help alleviate boredom and loneliness—both of which are known relapse triggers.
Keep in mind that new friendships should be platonic. Dating or seeking out sexual encounters is not recommended in the first year of recovery. You need to stay focused on developing healthy lifestyle habits and building a sober identity for yourself before you worry about finding a significant other.
Your Place of Worship
Your worship leader or fellow members of your place of worship can be an important source of support if your faith is important to you. They can encourage you to rely on your faith when you are struggling with cravings, triggers, and other recovery challenges. The various social and community service activities planned by most places of worship can also help you stay busy and practice socializing without drugs or alcohol.
Christian churches often host Celebrate Recovery meetings, which provide a Bible-based framework for people dealing with addiction, past trauma, and/or mental health concerns. These meetings can be an alternative or a supplement to AA or NA groups, depending upon your specific recovery needs.
People in Your Professional Network
Sharing your recovery story with people in your professional network should be done on a case by case basis. Although a substance use disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, you want to be sure that the people you are confiding in will be discrete. That being said, trusted coworkers or professional acquaintances can be a valuable part of your sober support network by helping you get your career back on track. They can provide advice on time management, building new skills, and/or employment opportunities that might better fit your recovery goals.
If you need to expand your professional network, consider joining a professional association for your industry, a college alumni group, or a community-based networking group. Volunteering your skills at a nonprofit organization can also help you expand your network as you add to your resume.
Online Support Groups
In-person communication is generally the most helpful in the early stages of recovery, but online support can be beneficial if you need an additional source of accountability. Sober Grid is a social networking app that you can use to connect with people near you who are also in recovery, find rides to 12-Step meetings, or find someone who shares your hobbies or special interests. Certified peer coaches can also be contacted through the service.
How Mountain Laurel Recovery Center Can Help
Mountain Laurel Recovery Center provides men and women struggling with drug or alcohol addiction access to a full continuum of care, from detox and residential treatment to extended care and family support services. Our dedicated and experienced clinical staff are committed to helping clients succeed in building a life free from dependence on alcohol, addictive chemicals, and the destructive behaviors associated with addiction.