Tag Archives: Support System

Tag Archives: Support System

How participating in 12-Step programs can help build a support system

Formalized treatment often provides the structure that a person needs to restore their mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing after the ups and downs of addiction – but another major part of recovery is social support, and this is often found through recovery-related activities. Individual and group therapy serve as safe spaces for learning and growth, but there’s another component of recovery that can provide a person with a number of contacts and an additional structure for healing: 12-Step programs.

All About 12-Step Programs

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), were founded back in the mid-1930s as a mutual self-help group. Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith and Bill Wilson started the first 12-Step fellowship in Akron, Ohio, and since then, thousands of chapters and people have engaged in it. The 12-Step program is a beautiful support program for those in addiction recovery, as the 12-Steps have led many people into forming a life of sobriety that’s all based on faith, hope, and love. A connection with a Higher Power is sought through these types of programs, and there are many principles that can be found through them:

  • The belief that a Higher Power is needed in order to live a fulfilling life, and that as human beings, we simply don’t have the power nor control to carry out what’s needed
  • The request of a Higher Power to remove all of our shortcomings
  • The admittance that we’d become powerless over our addiction, and that a Higher Power can help us carry out His will
  • And more

Over time, 12-Step programs have evolved into covering a variety of conditions such as eating disorders, gambling, nicotine addiction and more. It’s quite common for those in 12-Step programs to have a spiritual awakening, which has ultimately led people to lead a life with greater love, happiness and overall fulfillment.

In 2018, Very Well Mind, a website that publishes information related to mental health and wellness, explained that 12-Step programs have served not only as a way for people to recover from addiction but also as a form of guidance for life – and through this, connections can be made that only further endorse recovery and sobriety.

Social Support and Sobriety

It’s not uncommon for the people around us to greatly influence our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. All too often, people fall victim to substance abuse because their social circle endorses it – and once you’re caught in the endless cycle of substance abuse, it’s incredibly difficult to get out. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that it’s this exposure to outside influencers – along with environmental factors (such as low cost and accessibility of the substances) and psychological influencers (such as stress and history of trauma) can also affect a person’s susceptibility to addiction.

Social support is about finding people who uplift your dreams, goals and plans for sobriety – it’s about surrounding yourself with individuals who help you become the person you want to be, rather than take you away from it. By forming a strong support network through a 12-Step program, you can enjoy numerous benefits such as:

  • Having people you can rely on in times of need
  • Being able to surround yourself with people who positively reinforce sobriety
  • Obtaining a sponsor – someone who can help guide you through recovery
  • Engaging in recurring meetings that can serve as a constant in an otherwise seemingly chaotic world
  • Gaining confidence in recovery-related efforts by no longer feeling alone
  • And others

Of course, social support systems only become stronger with greater involvement – and it’s crucial that you fully participate in 12-Step meetings and other recovery-related activities in order to get the most benefit. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that 12-Step programs can,

“…Offer an added layer of community-level social support to help people in recovery with abstinence and other healthy lifestyle goals.”

Building a Community

An unfortunate belief by many who’ve struggled with addiction is that they’re all alone – but the reality is that there are many more people who are also suffering, and who are in need of support. 12-Step programs offer a new chance at a fulfilling life – and that’s not only through the connection of a Higher Power but through the connection of others who want to build one another up. In 2015, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) described the 12-Step program as a “tried-and-true proven approach” that involves far more than simply advising someone – but also fosters community relationships and sponsor-sponsee connections that can enhance someone’s life.

Part of building a social support network is becoming vulnerable and opening up about the challenges we go through, as well as serving as a listening ear to those who need it as well. Holistically, support is a process of give and take – and, over time, we may find that we make connections that serve as lifelong friendships. Furthermore, the building of a relationship with a Higher Power means that we no longer have to feel alone in our pursuits – there is someone else watching over us, and we can rely on Him to help us lead a more fulfilling life.

Jean Venier once stated,

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.”

If you’re ready to take steps towards building a lifelong support system, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. It’s never too late to ask for help – and in doing so, a number of opportunities become open.

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 two 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. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.

Relationships that harm recoveryAs previous research has shown us, one of the biggest influencers of recovery is support. Having someone by our side to lean on, to tell when things aren’t going the way we’d like for them to, to share our victories with – it all matters, and it can either pull us up (or push us down) in recovery.

Involvement in treatment is one of the biggest predictors of recovery success, but if we spend our time building our recovery with the wrong type of connections, we may wind up taking a few steps back in recovery – which is certainly not what we want.

Whether you’re in a 12-Step program or are meeting people through other avenues, it’s important to be careful in choosing who you invite to become part of your support system. Check out the following connections that may not be doing you any good:

  1. Keeping friends from the past. A 2015 study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy found that those who associated themselves more with non-using friends and less with friends who used to use actually experienced a better quality of life.
  2. Making friends with someone who attends 12-Step meetings but isn’t sober. We all know of that person who attends but isn’t 100% committed. Be wary of these types of connections because they could ultimately bring your recovery progress down – even if that wasn’t the original intention.
  3. Trying desperately to maintain connections with friends or family who do not support your recovery. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes, there are many reasons why family members may be unsupportive right now. The best you can do is let them know that you care and that you’re trying, and then give them space to work through their concerns while you continue to focus on your recovery.

The people we let into our lives can significantly alter the paths we take, so it’s wise to consider who you let in.

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.

Supporting women during recoveryAddiction is a complex disease and with so many contributing factors, researchers have been exploring for many, many years the multifaceted components that make up someone’s recovery process. Spirituality, abstinence, therapy and more are all significant areas to build in recovery, but one that is enacted – and not as often discussed – is social support. Women in particular may experience different vulnerabilities than men do when it comes to triggers and cravings and social support may be that guiding factor. If you’re a woman in addiction recovery, it’s time to really start thinking about your social network to ponder who is aiding your recovery – and who is hindering it.

As we navigate this road filled with ups and downs, trying to figure out which path to take, it’s difficult to let go of those who may not be helping us in recovery. In a purest sense, letting go is a form of self-care. In order for you to lead a life that you’re incredibly proud of, you’re going to have to change some of the people in your life to reflect what you want.

One woman shared her story with having to let go as part of her addiction recovery via Cosmopolitan. Here is an excerpt from her story:

“…My sobriety changed the dynamics of those relationships and many of them were beyond repair. With some people, it turned out that once we didn’t have booze or drugs between us, we had literally nothing to talk about.”

For many women in recovery, priorities change – and so do friends. A 2014 study published in the journal Qualitative Health Research found that many women, while adding friends to their recovery network, also isolate or distance themselves from others in an attempt to diminish the negative impact that those people have had on their recovery. Ultimately, it’s these connections that grow to be the foundation of your recovery, so you always want to choose those around you wisely.

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.

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