How Are Social Connections Made For Those in Addiction Recovery?
For many people in addiction recovery, life transitions must take place – ones that certainly affect the mind, body, and spirit, but also one’s social life as well. Addiction is often centered around social use, with people getting together solely for the purpose of abusing substances together. Once recovery really seeps in, we find that the people we used to “use” with are no longer conducive to our recovery and, therefore, tend to slowly (or quickly) disappear from our lives. Saying goodbye to these people may be challenging, but we will soon enough replace them with individuals who not only support our recovery, but uplift us in the best ways possible. If you’re still working on building social connections in recovery, don’t give up – it takes time, but the relationships you make can be lifelong, and well worth the wait.
A 2017 study published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today sought to explore how people with problematic drug use experience social connections. Twenty-nine individuals recovering from heroin, crack, cocaine, or methamphetamine addiction participated in the study, and three main themes emerged:
- Drug Treatment Programs – whether through self-help groups such as AA or through inpatient/outpatient treatment programs, this was (as would be expected) the most common place for individuals to build social connections.
- Non-Drug Using Family and Friends – spouses, partners, and children often helped motivate those in recovery to quit their substance abuse or maintain their success in recovery.
- Religious or Spiritual Groups – religious affiliations often provides those in recovery with a sense of belonging while also bridging social connections with people conducive to their recovery.
Dr. Robert L. Stout, senior scientist and center director of the Decision Sciences Institute at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, stated in a 2016 article published by the Research Society on Alcoholism: “How clients change their social connections after treatment is a strong indicator of substance abuse outcomes one year and three years later.”
By building appropriate social connections in recovery, a person has a much higher chance of maintain a lifestyle conducive to recovery once their program is completed. If you are currently seeking a reputable program, speak with a professional from a treatment center to learn more about your options.
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