Maintain Sobriety by Making Connections
Content Reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, Chief Clinical Officer at Cliffside Malibu
Human connections are some of the most fundamental and necessary needs in life. When you feel a connection with other people, this can bring you a sense of belonging that contributes to your overall well-being. Close relationships can help you get through your toughest moments and teach you the meaning of compassion and care. Developing connections in addiction recovery is essential to maintaining your sobriety.
Substance Use and Its Relationship to Isolation
When you are involved with drug and alcohol use, your life can become very lonely and isolated. You may begin to prioritize your relationship with the substance over other people and responsibilities in your life. You may find yourself neglecting your existing connections with your loved ones and avoiding social interaction. Drug or alcohol use can cause shame and embarrassment, which may cause you to avoid situations where others see you under the influence or at all. Isolation only causes deeper feelings of loneliness and can lead to feelings of depression, which makes you feel the need to use drugs or alcohol to cope, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.
Sobriety involves building and forming new, healthy relationships. The people you hung out with while you were using substances may have been contributing to your substance use. If you found yourself only hanging out with your friends to drink or get high, you may have been maintaining relationships that were substance-based. A huge aspect of addiction recovery and a key for maintaining your sobriety is no longer associating with things or people that could trigger your substance use. In therapy, whether through cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy, you will learn how to form new, healthy relationships which may cause you to either rebuild bonds or separate from others.
Why Connection Matters for Sobriety
- Connection creates a sense of belonging. Isolation can bring a sense of loneliness and alienation. Friends and families may have pushed you away when you abused substances. This can be because it may have been too painful to watch you suffer through addiction. You may have become too dependent on their resources. After completing treatment and entering into sobriety, you may feel unsure where you fit into society now. Cultivating a support system will help you feel like you have a sense of belonging to a community and in life.
- Connection leads to overall improvement. Research has shown that the support of your family and friends improves many mental health symptoms. People who are more connected with others experience less depression and anxiety than those who are not. Studies have also demonstrated that relationships with others bring a greater sense of self-worth, self-acceptance, empathy, and compassion for others, as well as greater self-esteem.
- Support systems provide benefits. Having people you love and trust around you to help you through difficult times in life, allows you to not have to go through difficulties alone. Maintaining long-term sobriety may be filled with many ups and downs which will be easier to navigate when you have people to reach out to for help.
Now that you know the importance of connection and its relationship to sobriety, here are a few ways you can start building connections.
Connect with Others in Your Sober Community
Many treatment programs have alumni programs that you can participate in after you complete treatment. Alumni programs are created to offer support to those who need a community to connect with after completing treatment. You can use alumni programs as a form of aftercare, which can help you with relapse prevention. Alumni programs give you a chance to stay in contact with your treatment center and peers that have also completed the program. This allows you to stay connected to people who are professionals and those you have formed a close relationship with while in treatment.
Connect with Your Family
If your family has supported you in early recovery, chances are they are dedicated to supporting you through the remainder of your sobriety. While you were abusing substances, you may have damaged relationships with the people you love the most, like friends and family. Because your family also may have been afraid to leave you alone, codependent relationships may have been created. During treatment, you will learn to identify which relationships you need to repair and start over with. Your family is typically one of the first focuses of repairing relationships. Spending time with your family and allowing everyone to get to know the healthy and sober version of you can bring an immense form of happiness. They also will be able to hold you accountable during recovery and keep you on track towards sobriety.
Create New Relationships
Trying new things is encouraged during recovery. Past locations, people, and activities associated with substance use can trigger a relapse. After you have completed treatment, it is an ideal time to experience new things that aren’t associated with drug or alcohol use. Find local activities in your community, like attending an art class or volunteering. While you are out enjoying your new adventures, you have the opportunity to meet new people and build healthy friendships.
Forming new, meaningful and healthy relationships that help you sustain a substance-free lifestyle is essential to successful sobriety. The benefits of forming new connections allow you to see that your life without substances can be a happy and fulling one. Cliffside Malibu understands the impact that people you meet in recovery can have on your life. Our staff offers a compassionate and quality approach to our treatment programs that help teach you how to develop relationships. We approach addiction recovery through both traditional and holistic programs such as inpatient and outpatient treatment, sober living, acupuncture, massage therapy and others. Addiction can be one of the loneliest times in your life, which is why you shouldn’t have to recover alone. If you or a loved one are in search of a treatment facility to guide you through recovery, call Cliffside Malibu at (855) 403-5641 to find out more about our programs.