Whether you’re in treatment or have been sober for a while, you’ve probably heard about the importance of having a ‘sober support network.’ Terminology aside, this basically means that in recovery, it’s important to have people around you who support your recovery and who may even be in recovery themselves. Having a sober network of friends or supportive environment around you can lead to greater recovery outcomes, so this is important advice to consider.
We recently sat down with Eric Spagenski, one of Common Ground’s clinical supervisors, to discuss the importance of social connectedness. Here’s what he had to say:
According to Eric, recovery for individuals struggling with addiction is greatly enhanced by social connectedness. Yet, many people with substance use disorders are not fully engaged in their communities as many individuals often remain socially isolated and excluded. Negative perceptions, prejudice, and discrimination contribute to the social exclusion of people seeking recovery.
People living with substance use disorders can increase social connections greatly when they access recovery-oriented services such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other support networks and establish positive relationships by making new and healthy friendships. Social connectedness helps us in the following ways:
- Greater social connections lead to improved economic, educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities.
- In a socially inclusive society, people in recovery have the opportunity and necessary supports to contribute to their community as citizens, parents, employees, students, volunteers, and leaders.
- Prevention activities and peer mentorship (or sponsorship) help create communities in which people have an improved quality of life that includes healthier environments such as at work and in restoring healthy family relations.
- Social connections and understanding also help people in recovery from addictions benefit from a chemical-free lifestyle.
“The wellness of the community creates a healing sanctuary - a culture of recovery - for the wounded individual, just as the growing wellness of the individual feeds the strength of the community. The individual, family and community are not separate: they are one. To injure one is to injure all; to heal one is to heal all.” -Don Coyhis White Bison
According to Eric, those in recovery should continue working towards establishing a healthy recovery community and social network through the help of proven recovery supports groups such as AA or NA. “More than any other tenant, a community of healthy connected people is what we need to overcome addiction.” Spagenski states.
By investing time into a sober support network, you are investing in your overall recovery journey. How will you increase your social connectedness and plug into a community of sober support?