Community In Recovery
The Agony of Isolation
The most painful aspect is the emotional and mental solitude that comes with addiction. There is a paralyzing level of shame that keeps others at a distance. You don’t want them to see who you really are. Deep within, you become afraid or their judgment, rejection, and abandonment. Feelings of failure and hopelessness become a natural part of a substance abuser’s thoughts. They think that they’re less than others, that no one understands their pain, and that they’re just too different to have any meaningful connections with anyone else.
By themselves, the addict can find no solution to the grip of active addiction. Many find that they can’t quit on their own. Their own plans to cut back, using based on self-will, haven’t worked. They may feel like they’ve tried everything and may give up to the feeling that they are forever stuck in this cycle of drug abuse. They even farther away from the world that surrounds them.
Healing Takes A Team
Their backgrounds might be similar to vastly different but their disease binds them deeper than most other forms of community. Recovering addicts find that they can instantly feel a connection to anyone else in recovery from anywhere in the world.
In recovery, your community includes people who relate to your struggles with emotions, who understand your fears, who have felt the same sense of desperation, who have come from the same depths of haplessness. They can relate to you in a way that few non-addicts can. It is vital that those in recovery find their recovery community and stop the natural instinct to isolate.
It Can Be Challenging
Benefits of Being Part of A Community
Building a New Identity
Sobriety in a community means you can identify as a recovering alcoholic or addict. We believe that this identity helps you always stay vigilant against your disease and reminds you to continue to use the tools of recovery throughout your lifetime. You also become part of a new family that understands you deeper than some of your relatives.
Getting to know who you really are and having a meaningful purpose are crucial elements of lasting recovery.
Learning to Socialize Again
You will learn to be honest with yourself and your relationships. You don’t have to live in denial and you will see that it’s ok to be vulnerable with others. You can let your guard down, not to be consumed with your image, and be transparent about your life. For many in recovery, this level of honesty is a new, uncomfortable, but liberating experience.
Real-Life Examples: A Source of Hope
A community has an abundant supply of people you can look up to and emulate. They have put in the work, and have substantial life experience, and developed a life that you’d like for yourself. They have what you want. You can listen to their stories and you can attach yourself to one as your mentor/ sponsor. as your sponsor, they can give you specific guidance tailored to your own particular situation.
These examples of sobriety also serve as your source of hope. Thoughts of hopelessness and desperation can plague the mind in early recovery. The urge to give up can be strong. The disease can give over-critical and judgmental eyes and tempt you to run from your quest for sobriety. But being in touch with others who have built long-term sobriety can restore the assurance that you can make it too. You can look at the lives they’ve built, how they regulate their emotions, and how they live by recovery principles. You’ll gain confidence that if you follow their footsteps, you can thrive in your life of sobriety. Your disease will try to convince you otherwise. Staying connected to a recovery community will help you work through doubts and fears and keep you firmly planted in hope.
Without alcohol or drugs, one might feel overwhelmed with the inability to escape or numb emotions. Additionally, emotions seem more intense because the body is healing and emotions aren’t being chemically suppressed. Unless one uses healthy coping techniques the onslaught of stress can drive one back to drugs or alcohol for relief.
Finding Your Community
- Consider treatment in a new city or state, far away from old influences
- Complete the full program in inpatient treatment
- Become an active, participating member of NA, AA, or other related 12-step groups
- Continue treatment with intensive outpatient treatment (IOP)
- Reside in sober living
- Be of service and mentor others in early sobriety
Consistency is key. Keep showing up. Get there early. Stay late. Meet people. Get phone numbers and use them. Volunteer for every needs the group has. Act as you belong and soon you will belong.
The Healthy Life Recovery Community
Healthy Life Recovery is located in Pacific Beach, California, where there is a large, vibrant recovery community. There are 12-step meetings throughout the day, every day. Clients learn to reach out, beyond our treatment center, to expand their support network. Their time at our treatment center is temporary, but permanent recovery depends on deep, meaningful connections outside our walls. Most of all, we want our clients to serve their recovery community. We encourage our clients to take up commitments at their support group meetings and eventually mentor or sponsor someone new to recovery.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Sanjai Thankachen graduated from Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medicine in 2000. He completed his residency in psychiatry in 2008 at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York. Dr. Thankachen is currently working with Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialists in an outpatient practice, as well as working at multiple in-patient psychiatric and medical units bringing his patients the most advanced healthcare treatment in psychiatry. Dr. Thankachen sees patients with an array of disorders, including depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia, anxiety, and dementia-related problems.
Edited for Clinical Accuracy By:
Sean Leonard is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner. He received his master’s degree in adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner from Walden University and a second postmaster specialty in psychiatry mental health nurse practitioner from Rocky Mountain University. Sean has experience working in various diverse settings, including an outpatient clinic, inpatient detox and rehab, psychiatric emergency, and dual diagnosis programs. His specialty areas include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, ADHD, and OCD.