There is nothing more personal and unique than a person’s recovery story. Everyone who enters treatment for substance use and addiction has an outlook and a history particular to them. Each resident of First Steps has a testimony about why they started using, how things began to spiral out of control, and what brought them to the place of reaching out for help. These stories are as varied and diverse as the colors of the visible spectrum. However, all of these people from all different walks of life and all ages have one thing in common: our sobriety is saving our lives.
This is why community is vital in maintaining lasting recovery.
It has been said that addiction is a disease of loneliness. This is for multitude reasons. A strong sense of separation is endemic with substance use disorders. Indeed, isolation and loneliness contribute to a wide range of mental health issues and substance abuse.
As we learn in the initial stages of rehab, drugs are the tools used to mask or numb a person’s deepest issues. And addiction is a result of that tool. So when you have a person who is hiding from profound psychological issues who also feels guilt and disparity in their actions, they will naturally further isolate themselves.
Detox and residential treatment are the first steps to overcome the isolation of substance use. In that milieu, individuals discovery that they are not actually alone. In rehab, we find others that can understand our situation and offer guidance for our journey. And possibly most surprising of all, we have insights gained in from our experience that we can offer others to move them forward in sobriety.
For these reasons and more, community is essential for long-term recovery.
Of course, a person steeped in addiction has no desire for community. They prefer to fix their own problems, or give excuses as to why treatment doesn’t work.
This is why it is so important for a person in addiction treatment to have an attitude adjustment. Community is frightening. It calls your assumptions into question. Support holds you accountable for the things you have said and promised. Interaction requires open-mindedness and a willingness to communicate and listen. All of these are tough for a person controlled by their need to self-medicate—their need to escape.
As much as the adjustment in attitude is necessary for successful treatment, it can also further isolate a person after leaving rehab. Once a person has moved on from detox and residential care, a newly sober person often experiences, even more, feelings of loneliness. The life they were living before sobriety has pretty much gone away. Many friends have disappeared, their old hangouts don’t make sense anymore, and even their sense of enjoyment and fun is up for grabs. As well, they may feel the need to protect their sobriety from outside influences. Without a good community, this seemingly good idea can turn into a source of isolation and further loneliness.
Human connections formed in treatment, sober living, 12 Step meetings, and other recovery activities are the real long-term recipe for recovery. Stepping into a new life of sobriety, with a strong system of help and support, mitigates isolation.
The best thing about finding community in a sober community is the authenticity. A person who has found sobriety is now open to the possibility of real fun, real relationships, and real life. Their experiences will now overshadow their previous experiences where drugs or alcohol was the primary connection.
Ultimately community offers a person in recovery the strength and support to make their best decisions. Being held responsible for their commitments, finding a source for enjoyment and activities, having a lifeline to hold onto when triggers occur, motivation to maintain the transformed lifestyle, and even the ability to offer these things to others. These are all reasons community makes a difference in recovery.
At First Steps Recovery we specialize in community-based recovery. Our clinical program and our holistic treatment approaches offer individuals a foundation for full recovery in community. To find out more about our full range of treatment options, or connect with our sober living community, please call us today: 844-244-7837.