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The Importance of Having a Support System in Rehab

Nov 10, 2020 | Addiction Treatment

Having a trusted support system while in rehab can be the defining factor in recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. A support system is important as it offers moral support, compassion, and guidance in the course of rehabilitation. 

The majority of addiction recovery requires an independent journey. However, support systems can meet the needs of addicted individuals in ways recovery centers don’t. 

For example, a close friend will understand the reaction of an addict to certain activities more than a recovery center’s nurse would be able to.

A support system can take the shape of family, friends, a spouse, other recovering addicts, and past coaches or mentors. In addiction recovery, the creation of a support system will greatly benefit in the occasion of a relapse. 

The Importance of a Support System

Drugs and alcohol are addiction-forming habits, and both are known to cause forms of isolation. The importance of a support system is to convey that the addict is not alone. 

support system

Sense of Companionship

The feeling of isolation can arise in rehab, and a close group of friends can assist in making sure that feeling doesn’t fully develop. Recovering addicts may feel that no one relates to them, and having an individual that can sympathize with their situation is substantial. Sympathizing with them allows the abuser to feel understood and makes them feel validated. 

When a support system is created, it’s important to keep it included in therapy sessions. This way, they’ll grow further invested in the process of recovery and the recovering addicts’ journey. When there is support from friends and family, the chance of long-term recovery is more attainable.

Lower Risk of Relapse

Furthermore, with encouragement from friends through rehab and outside of rehab, there is less chance of immediate relapse for an addict. Friends also offer support by providing distractions from activities that can cause major stress and act as triggers. 

Building a support system can include making new friends who are sober or building past relationships that are broken. Rebuilding a past relationship can be tricky. Addiction doesn’t affect just the user, but it affects all the relationships an addict creates. 

Addiction can damage the life of a close friend. Friends may try to cope with unhealthy habits as the emotional pain of experiencing a loved one go through addiction is rough. 

Involving family and close friends on the journey of rehabilitation can be difficult. The family will hold the recovering addict accountable and tell the truth when it is needed. Most importantly, they will help build daily routines that do not involve addiction.

Benefits of a Support System

Creating a solid support system can benefit the substance abuser in many ways. Some of those include:

  • Relieving stress through friends and family. Having a friend present can help guide an abuser in moments when they’re likely to revert to past behaviors.
  • Repeated kindness and compassion from friends or family. This is important in times that self-confidence is running low. Kindness and compassion can keep substance abusers motivated and focused.
  • Less difficulty facing challenges. The substance abuser is no longer facing them alone, but facing them with friends and family. Facing them alone would cause the addict stress and most likely trigger their unhealthy reactions.
  • Less social anxiety as friends or family members limit that reaction. Having friends present allows one to feel less awkward or alone, and overall reduces the need for singular interaction. 
  • Keeping the substance abuser in check. Sometimes the addict can become too confident or frivolous in their recovery, and a loved one is needed to guide them back. 
  • Healthy pressure is felt rather than a sense of peer pressure. Just as some may peer pressure one into using drugs or alcohol, healthy pressure involves a support group that encourages honest and healthy decisions.

Friends and family members can provide support in situations that evoke social anxiety or recollect grim memories. Without a support system, the substance abuser may default in their ability to convey acceptance and loyalty to others. Receiving acceptance and loyalty from others can encourage substance abusers to complete the rest of the rehabilitation. In rehab, communication is an important factor as it allows one to convey how they feel and how they are best supported.

How to Create a Support System

The process of addiction recovery is supported through the value of relationships that create a positive and motivating group. Besides just friends and family, significant others or fellow recovering addicts can make up a supportive group of individuals. 

Joining a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or other social programs provides the chance for one to seek out like-minded individuals. Finding someone who is like-minded means finding an individual that shares similar ideas, interests, opinions, or tastes. 

To create a solid support system, the following steps can be taken:

  • Join a group activity, a club, or a hobby
  • Volunteer
  • Ask for help
  • See a counselor, therapist, or life coach
  • Reach out to past friends who were supportive and encouraging
  • Attend group meetings that cater to your addiction
  • Be specific in what you want for your recovery

In a support group, look for members who display the ability to rebuild their lives, and that sobriety is a part of it. 

Why Do You Feel Lonely in Rehab?

Many recovering addicts will feel the effects of loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling of distress or discomfort. It results when an individual’s desire for social connection and the experience of it doesn’t correlate. 

The reason many addicts feel lonely in the recovery process is that their original friend group and support system were taken away. Substance abusers surround themselves with the same type of people: fellow substance abusers. 

While addicted, their normal routine is plagued by like-minded people who encourage drug and alcohol use. When those like-minded individuals are removed from the situation, suddenly the enabling has vanished too. 

The importance of creating a healthier network of friends is critical to the recovery of the substance abuser. When individuals who encourage bad behavior are removed, new supportive friendships can be established. 

A great advantage for the substance abuser is to involve their family in their recovery. A family member’s involvement can change the course of rehabilitation and encourage the addict to put more effort into rehab. 

Addicts need to be held responsible for their substance usage by friends and family; however, they shouldn’t feel berated or attacked. In addiction therapy, the power to reestablish broken familial foundations when drugs and alcohol are introduced is possible. 

Those close to the addict should not make them feel they are alone but provide a haven in which they can discuss any topic. Some popular options offered at rehabilitation centers include the typical 12-step program, family therapy, or group therapy.

Forms of Treatment

There is an array of options provided by treatment centers for recovery, including 12-step programs, family therapy, group therapy, etc.

12-Step Programs

12-step programs were designed to guide the addict by applying a process that includes admitting shortcomings. Sobriety is maintained by being held accountable in a group setting, but also by a sponsor who offers support in times of crisis. A sponsor is usually a recovered addict and someone who also participates in the group setting.

Besides the typical 12-step program, some other options include Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon therapy sessions provide a safe place for those close to the recovering addict to participate. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy includes anyone who is important to the addict’s life. This can be a spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, or just a friend. Since family can be difficult to get along with, this session attempts to identify the family’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, the therapist works with the family to nurture change and development. The goal of family therapy is to improve communication, understand each other, handle family situations in calm manners, and create better functioning home environments.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can be beneficial as it provides positive peer support and feedback for managing triggers and staying sober. These meetings are usually led by licensed professionals who guide group discussions in addiction. These meetings allow the addict a place to discover sobriety and process their recovery in a safe, like-minded atmosphere.

Steps to Avoid Relapse

Because addiction can be hard to overcome alone, some steps to help one move forward and recover completely are:

  • Continue to communicate with others, don’t cut off communication 
  • Take the time needed to start a new job or relationship
  • Rely on existing friends and family
  • Attend meetings
  • Take responsibility for past actions 
  • Be realistic and don’t hold unreasonable expectations
  • Set boundaries

Loneliness is the single most common reason for relapse; it can lead a person to feel depressed, guilty, socially isolated, or shameful. Loneliness can be a trigger for many if they fail to make friends while in therapy or create a successful support group. 

The regular use of drugs and alcohol has taught the addict the idea of instant gratification. This may not be the case in rehab and often results in forms of failure and loneliness. In rehab, gratification is earned, and the addict will most likely struggle before learning to be patient again.

The idea of loneliness and addiction can be looked at as a form of solitude. Solitude is the state of being alone without feeling alone. A form of solitude can be accomplished by creating that solid support group and fighting addiction. 

Seek Help Today

If you or someone you love is experiencing the effects of substance abuse, contact us today at CNV Detox to understand the importance of a solid support system. 


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