Addiction and Community
Community is an important part of recovery, and for many of us plays an important role in our journey using drugs and alcohol. If we are to find a lasting recovery, we need to address our relationships with those around us and what is healthy.
Our Using Community
When we’re using drugs and alcohol, we often are surrounding ourselves with others who drink and use the way we do. If we have friends that don’t approve of our habits, we tend to slowly distance ourselves from them. This makes sense, as we want to feel a sense of belonging with our friends and community, so we connect with those that behave in similar ways as we do.
For many of us, we end up drinking and using alone. Sometimes we act in ways that burns bridges or we just don’t want to engage with others. We end up feeling lonely and disconnected, even from our closest friends and family. Addiction does this to us and sneaks up on us. We may have once been popular and had many friends, but one day find ourselves lonely and craving some social interaction.
On the other hand, we sometimes have a lot of friends. There are people who get sober but have a thriving community of fellow party animals. However, we generally don’t have a true intimate connection with these types of friends. Although we may have fun together, it’s likely that you don’t know everything about each other or truly care for their deeper needs. This often only comes to light once we get sober and begin to investigate true connection.
A Sober Community
The beautiful part of this is that we have a powerful opportunity to build community in recovery. Some people go to an addiction treatment center, some go to twelve-step meetings or other support groups, and others just stop meeting people at bars and clubs. Whatever your individual case may be, you have a chance to find a new way to relate to those around you.
In my personal recovery, community has been one of the most important pieces. By stepping a bit out of my comfort zone, I built a community unlike any I had known before in my life. The support network we can build in recovery can help keep us on the right path when we’re not 100%. Whether we need encouragement to keep going, someone to listen to and support us when we’re struggling, or just someone with whom we can connect, a support network can make all the difference in our lives. We can find sober activities to do with friends and enjoy our recovery.
Making the Change
It’s not just super simple to change the way we interact with those around us. We don’t change overnight, and often have to work at building a healthy support network. Many of us find ourselves repeating old habits when we get sober, building relationships with unhealthy people that don’t serve us or enable us.
One of the first things we can do is work on the relationships that may have been damaged due to our using. From old friends to family members, some of our relationships may need some loving attention. We may address this in some step work in twelve-step groups, with the help of a therapist, or when the time is right. We often find that people are willing to work with us and build a new relationship if we are truly honest and willing.
We can also work on building a healthy community in recovery. This may mean finding people to interact with that don’t drink or use or that are in recovery themselves. We work on building a community that supports us and our deeper intentions. Does your community support your growth, dreams, hopes, and health? Can you create a support network that truly benefits you.
It goes both ways. We also need to find a way to care for and connect with those around us. If we don’t show up with presence and care for our community, we aren’t going to deepen our connection. Relationships go both ways. Sometimes we need to show up for others, and sometimes we need others to show up for us. We have to be willing to take steps ourselves to care for those around us and be present for people.