How to Stay Strong in Your Recovery, Even If Your Loved Ones Don’t Support You

Recovery is an incredibly courageous journey and you can’t do it alone. As human beings, we fundamentally rely on social interactions because we’re social beings. We talk to others, we create stories, we laugh, we empathize and that’s one major connection between all of us. In America, we’re told growing up, that family is supposed to be there for you, no matter what. Movies, commercials and holiday magazine ads depict family as something that can never break; we grow up believing this wholeheartedly, but come to find that sometimes, life events and time can change things.

It doesn’t make it any easier, but the reality is that not many people have cohesive families. Many families are broken – they don’t get along, there is distance between family members or certain values seem too contradicting for family members to work through. Addiction recovery is an especially challenging feat, because some family members may not understand or they be resentful for some time.

In a 2015 study published in the journal Qualitative Health Research, women in treatment for substance dependence were asked to talk about the domains of their emotional states, personal networks, recovery and how all of these influence one another. Many participants talked about the aspect of having to distance themselves from negative people or those who were hindering their recovery. As you can see, this isn’t that uncommon.

Some of your loved ones may not fit into your recovery journey right now and that’s okay. Perhaps you need this time to build your strength and there are many ways you can do this.

Reminders for Staying Strong in Recovery

  1. Connect with Others

    In the study mentioned above, several women stated that it became easier to make friends through their treatment center and 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as they practiced building these connections. For example, one participant stated, “[My social network] was hard for me in the beginning. Just gaining the trust on my part, you know, I don’t want to tell you about me…I’ve gotten better with it…Instead of being that flower on the wall, it’s easier as time goes on. So, I’ve got a lot of people in my life today. “

  2. Stay Focused

    The less you focus on the past and the people who aren’t actively involved in your recovery, the less time you have to focus on you. You’re missing out on some crucial pieces of the puzzle here and that’s your health, happiness and recovery journey. You will build up your strength and confidence over time, but you have to stay focused. One treatment provider in the study mentioned that many of the women in the program did this – and you can too. They stated, “They’ve built up their self-esteem through treatment, through their relationships with other women in the program.”

  3. Let Go of Expectations

    Sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to let go of all those expectations; you know, the ones where you expect your family to be 110% supportive, the ones where you expect that you’ll fail or succeed in recovery with or without them, the ones where you expect they will or will not ever enter back into your life – those expectations don’t matter because they are just speculations. Speculations aren’t based on anything but your own anxieties and the sooner you let that go, the sooner you’ll be able to carry on with what really matters – the here and now.

  4. Practice Mindfulness

    Transitioning right from letting go of expectations, the present moment is exactly where you need to be! If you allow yourself to get lost in the deep, dark tunnel of regret, guilt, humiliation, disappointment, anger, bitterness, sadness, loneliness or other negative feelings that are harboring you down, you dim your light. You miss precious time to build yourself, to become stronger and wiser and healthier – there is no time like the present.

    In a 2016 review published in the journal Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics, it was concluded that practicing mindfulness actually tunes us in more to those natural reward cues that life brings us (such as silliness, feeling the wind as you walk outside, getting caught up in a good book, appreciating those sweet moments that fly by). Addiction tends to make it hard to find pleasure in all things non-substance related and recovery is the time to build that up again. With time and practice, mindfulness can bring your life back to you – in every way possible.

  5. Find Your Center

    Last but not least, find what makes you happy. Even though you don’t have your loved ones around, perhaps you need this space to really find yourself amidst the chaos. Discover your hobbies. Connect with God or another Higher Power. Give back to others. Find your purpose. Spend time embracing every step of the way, because it’s one of the best journeys you will embark on.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.