You can think of someone addicted to drugs or alcohol as drowning. They’re treading water, but their head is slowly going under. That person needs a lifeline – or several. When you decide to stop drinking or using drugs, you’ll need to create a network of support and lifelines to keep you clean for good known as sober supports.
Let’s learn more about sober supports including what they are and unique qualities to look for. The stronger your sober supports, the more likely you’ll stay sober for good.
What are Sober Supports?
No one can recover on their own. The ultimate responsibility to get sober will always remain with the addict or alcoholic but they cannot undertake that journey without a tremendous amount of support. The more support you can build during your recovery, the more likely they’ll be a hand to reach out to before you fall off the wagon.
These tools and outlets of recovery are known as sober supports. Another way to think of sober supports is a network of resources you will use throughout your sobriety journey. There are several forms of supports including 12-step meetings, other group counseling, a variety of therapies, sober homes, and much more. Let’s learn how to find your resources.
Finding Sober Supports
Reaching out to a local recovery center is a fast way to find great recovery resources in your area. A recovery or detox facility can provide you with information on local 12-step meetings, other local counseling, where to find a personal therapist, and much more. Treatment centers are little libraries of recovery. You can take advantage of them even if you aren’t a patient.
If you’re too shy to immediately reach out to a treatment center, you can turn online. There are many online support groups and recovery resources that can help you find local group counseling and other sobriety resources close to your front door. If you’re reaching out, you’re working towards your support. Now let’s review the qualities of that support.
Supports Hold You Accountable
Have you heard the phrase ‘give them just enough rope to hang themselves?’ That’s a grim idiom but it accurately reflects the tightrope you’ll walk between accountability and personal freedom in recovery. You need to lead your life, but you also need support groups to hold you accountable. 12-step meetings and other regular meetings can help hold you accountable, but you should also create other forms of accountability. It may take a minute to find the balance but err on the side of too much accountability at first.
You Need Variety
You can have a favorite sober support or supports that you like more than others, but you shouldn’t rely on only one support system. When you create your support system you’re casting as many safety nets as possible. If one doesn’t catch you, you want to have insurance that there are other nets available. There’s not really such thing as having too much support is sobriety.
You Need at Least One Professional Resource
12-step meetings, online chats, and other non-professional support systems are all part of getting sober, but you also want to get professional support, especially in early recovery. Professional support can be found in a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any number of board-certified counselors and therapists.
Help found in informal help like AA and other group counseling is invaluable for recovery, but you need an addiction expert to help heal your mind and help control destructive thought patterns. You will also need professional help if you’ve received a dual diagnosis of addiction and a secondary mental disorder like major depression or PTSD to get past both issues.
Professionals will use proven techniques and methods like medication or cognitive behavioral therapy to meet your issues head on and add another piece to your recovery puzzle.
You Should Like Your Support
There’s no doubt that you might go through discomfort during recovery and that discomfort might come from your supports. While a little discomfort is normal you shouldn’t dislike or dread your sober supports. If you hate going to 12-step meetings after several tries, or if the therapist you’re using doesn’t seem to help – there’s no reason to continue.
In addiction you learn that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why continue trying supports that you don’t like or don’t aid your recovery? Some may tell you that you should hate your 12-step sponsor, or you have to grind through counseling, but this isn’t true – you should enjoy or at least find results in your sober supports.
You Should Look for Fellowship and Understanding
We’ve mentioned 12-step meetings and other group counseling several times because they should always be a part of any sober support system. Fellowship is an important factor in getting over addiction and can be found in several outlets. In a group setting, you can share your challenges and triumphs and be a part of others’ recovery too.
When you speak with other addicts or alcoholics there’s one big difference compared to speaking to someone who has never experienced substance abuse – they understand. It’s much easier to get your feelings off your chest or take the next steps forward in your recovery if you know the person listening understands what you’re going through.
Support groups can help you see the world a different way, lead you to fresh approaches on problems, and become a part of your life you look forward to daily, weekly, or however often you want to go. They also provide accountability since you don’t want to let yourself or the group down. It doesn’t matter if you prefer AA, NA, or a program like SMART – any fellowship and group counseling is a crucial part of sober support.
There are several factors when looking for good sober supports, but you should look towards the criteria above as a great starting point. Look for accountability, understanding, like what you’re doing in recovery, and build yourself a vast and varied network of support. If you follow those rules and continue growing your resources, you’ll have a much easier time in recovery with better long-term results.