In regards to substance abuse, it is a common misconception that ‘quitting’ and ‘recovering’ are the same thing when they are, in fact, very different. Quitting is only the first step of your recovery, which is a long-term and ongoing process of growth, change, and self-discovery that reclaims your sense of self that was lost to addiction. Recovery is different for everyone, but refraining from addictive behavior is always the toughest part of the journey. This is why building and maintaining a personal support system is crucial to your recovery process.

A Support Group Versus A Personal Support System

There are two distinct kinds of support systems: those that exist within group therapy and those that do not.

Group therapy support systems are simply called ‘support groups’ and serve as a fundamental part of the overall recovery process in any wellness center. People in recovery are more compelled to share their thoughts and feelings with others who have endured the same or similar experiences.  This is extremely important because it allows for a more in-depth look into the addiction itself—and possibly the motivations behind it. This can assist you in determining the best possible path for yourself on the road to sobriety, and all with the support of others who want to see you succeed.

Support systems that exist outside of therapy— which we will call personal support systems— are groups comprised of people outside of your in-therapy support group that all share a desire to help you stay on the path to a full recovery. Your support system could be comprised of your significant other, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even your pets!

Why Having A Strong Personal Support System Is Important

While the people within your personal support system may not have suffered through an addiction themselves, their help is just as essential as your support group’s. In fact, your personal support system and your support group share two critical common goals: 1) to repair the damaging effects of loneliness and isolation that come with addiction and 2) to provide emotional support while you work toward improved health and quality of life after addiction. However, unlike your support group, your personal support system exists throughout the entire recovery process and will continue to exist even after you get sober.

It’s vital, then, for your personal support system to stay involved in the whole of the recovery process for the sake of your physical, mental and emotional health. When recovering addicts surround themselves with a supportive group of friends and family, it drastically lessens the chances of relapsing. Otherwise, the rekindled feelings of emotional pain and the recession back into isolation may trigger a relapse and possibly make the addiction much worse.

Additionally, keeping your personal support system functioning at its best may mean severing ties with anyone who could have a corrupting influence over you and your sobriety. This could mean quitting a toxic job, cutting off contact with an abusive family member, saying goodbye to a manipulative friend of ten years, or leaving a disloyal significant other— anything that could or has already fuelled the desire to use. This is often the most difficult part of recovery. It can be painful to say goodbye to someone who used to be part of your life, but ultimately, your health and well-being are far more important.

Maintaining Support After Getting Sober

Getting sober is half the battle. Once you attain sobriety, there will undoubtedly be obstacles and pressure to relapse. Surrounding yourself with your personal support system and continuing to accept their help, encouragement and positive vibes on a regular basis is the best way to stay sober for good.

The Long And Winding Road Ahead

Recovery isn’t a destination; it’s a road with highs and lows. Navigating it alone isn’t worth the risk of relapsing. Having a personal support system to be there for you every step of the way will not only help you recover but also help you reclaim your life.

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