A support system consists of people you rely on to assist with your recovery by providing reliable assistance and encouragement. Usually, this group consists of one to ten people, and they can be peers, friends, family, or people you have met through the recovery process. Individuals who may be part of a support system include:
- Spiritual leaders
- Close friends
- Trusted family members
Sometimes you may include groups such as crisis lines or chats where you can reach out in moments of distress and get help. A support system is a valuable tool for all stages of recovery, and the sooner you get one in place, the better you will feel. The validation and outside perspective you get from people who care about your recovery will make challenges easier to overcome.
Why a Support System is Crucial
A healthy support system can remove feelings of anxiety, stress, guilt, and isolation. Quality over quantity is an important rule when you start building a group of people to help with your recovery. Each of them will play an important role, and you want to choose only people you know who will respect your boundaries. A support system is crucial because it provides the following:
- An objective outside point of view
- Accountability for your actions
- Motivation to stay sober
- Reduced stress and anxiety related to social situations
- A safe outlet for your concerns and worries
- Someplace you can get advice and learn helpful life skills
- Non-judgemental space where you can feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “The process of recovery is supported through relationships and social networks.” You will improve your ability to interact socially and create healthy boundaries and expectations. During long-term recovery, having people you trust can give you the strength to keep moving forward.
Create a Support System in Four Easy Steps
At first, you might feel vulnerable or uncomfortable bringing up the conversation with friends, family, and peers. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can create a support system by going through the following four steps:
#1. Make a list of people you trust with your health and recovery. Choose individuals who you feel confident will help you during a crisis.
#2. Write out ways they can help you and why you trust them. Make a priority list with people you trust the most and feel most comfortable speaking with about your recovery.
#3. Talk with your therapist or a loved one to get an outside perspective on each relationship. Once you feel confident that you have a good list of potential supporters, reach out to each and have an honest conversation about how you feel, your recovery progress, and how you believe they can assist you in staying sober. Try to avoid using language that might pressure or guilt them into accepting the responsibility.
#4. Create a safety plan for how and when to use your support system during a crisis. Match each person with their strengths so you know when to reach out to a specific individual. For example, when you experience intrusive thoughts or cravings, your therapist or sponsor may be the right person to call. However, if you are experiencing relationship issues stemming from self-doubt, then a loved one or good friend might be a better choice.
Use Your Resources Wisely
A wide range of resources exists for individuals in recovery, including:
- Self-help groups
- One-on-one, family, and group therapy
- Volunteer opportunities within the sober community
- Sponsors and other mentor relationships
- Local advocacy and recovery organizations
- State, national, and international online relapse prevention and support forums
- Local classes, courses, and alternative therapies
If you have only a few personal connections, then sometimes drawing from one of these other resources is helpful until you have a chance to branch out and build more social relationships.
Share Your Recovery Milestones
It might be tempting to avoid talking about your recovery unless you face an emotional crisis, but your friends, family, and peers care about your well-being. Doing their best to help you stay sober is a primary goal, but you should share your happiness and success with them as well. By letting them know about your recovery milestones, you can enjoy well-earned praise and spread the joy you feel.
Your progress can inspire them to keep moving forward in their own lives. You never know when sharing your achievement will help someone else get through a tough day. Keeping an open and honest line of communication open with everyone in your support system will strengthen your relationships.
A support system can mean the difference between working through challenges in recovery and getting stuck in an emotional rut. Sometimes relying on others is necessary and helps us get past guilt and self-doubts. Receiving encouragement from a trusted friend when you feel down or uncertain can give you confidence. Not only does building positive relationships improve your overall stress level, but they also prove that you are recovering and help you feel less alone. The White House Recovery and Detox staff can help you create a support system or improve the one you already have in place. Everyone deserves to be supported and loved no matter where they are on their recovery journey. Learn how to trust others by slowly building personal relationships to create a robust support system. To learn more about White House Recovery and Detox and what we have to offer, reach out today. Call our office at (800) 510-5393.