The importance of community in recovery can’t be overstated, and here’s why.
Community, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is one of the four major dimensions that support a life in recovery. Community encompasses social networks and relationships that offer support, love, friendship, and hope. Here, we look at the importance of community in recovery and why having a strong community is one of the most important relapse prevention strategies there is.
Isolation: The Opposite of Community
One common underlying issue behind addiction is isolation. People may turn to substance abuse when they feel they can’t relate to others or they feel like they don’t belong. It’s very common for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to isolate themselves from others intentionally or to unintentionally become more and more isolated as the addiction progresses. Isolation becomes a wall that keeps you from having to face others, which can cause shame, guilt, and other negative emotions. For those who have suffered trauma, the wall protects against the pain others can cause. Isolation is a disconnection from other humans, and the problem with it is that humans are inherently social creatures – it’s built into our DNA – and we need community to thrive.
Isolation isn’t a natural human state, and the importance of community in recovery for promoting feelings of belonging can’t be understated, especially in early recovery from addiction.
Who is Your Community, and How Does it Help?
Community extends to the people you interact with in your life. The larger and more supportive your community in recovery, the more likely you are to enjoy success. Research shows that falling back into isolation can quickly lead back to relapse. That’s because when you’re isolated, your thoughts become more negative. You may begin to engage in negative self-talk, and you may begin to neglect self-care, another important relapse factor. The importance of community in recovery lies in the prevention of isolation and loneliness.
Community promotes recovery in a number of key ways.
It provides support. Having a strong support network dramatically increases your chance of long-term recovery. Your community is your support system, and it can include friends, family, co-workers, bosses, therapists, sponsors, and others with whom you frequently interact. With a strong support system, you’re more likely to ask for help when you need it, and you’re less likely to fall back on self-destructive thought and behavior patterns that can lead to relapse.
It keeps you busy. Engagement in the community helps divert your attention and keep you from dwelling on negative emotions, cravings, or problems in your life. Staying busy is one of the most important relapse prevention strategies, particularly in early recovery from addiction, and a bigger community provides more opportunities for healthy activities that enlarge and enrich your world.
It promotes having fun. Having fun is central to successful recovery. It promotes relaxation and wellbeing, and it produces feelings of pleasure and contentment. These positive emotions drive successful recovery. There’s always fun to be found in a community, and looking for opportunities to spend enjoyable time relaxing with friends and family can help reduce stress and negative emotions and prevent relapse.
It promotes connection. When you feel connected to others, you’re less likely to use drugs and alcohol to fill a void in your life. Making connections to others, in part, means finding common ground and feeling mutual respect. Making connections requires good communication skills, which is why developing healthy social skills is an important focus in addiction treatment. You can find connections through religious, social, or political affiliations, through engaging in hobbies you enjoy, and by attending meetings regularly.
The importance of community in recovery and the positive connections you make go a long way toward improving the quality of your life and reducing feelings of isolation. Community helps prevent loneliness and keeps you from engaging in isolating behaviors that can lead to relapse. Treatment helps you broaden your community of support through a variety of avenues, including by helping you develop better communication skills, improving relationships in the family system, and promoting healthy friendships.
Better Addiction Care can help you find a high quality treatment program to end your addiction for the long-haul and expand your recovery community for greater health, happiness, and wellbeing.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.