Sober supports are one of the keystones to a solid recovery program. When you are new to recovery—either by way of going to a detox and/or treatment center or checking out 12 Steps meetings while abstaining from drugs and alcohol without having been to treatment—you may not have many sober supports. This is common. If you are new to a treatment center than their sober supports are basically the staff at the center and people they live with in sober housing.
This is a lot of support for someone that has potentially left a group of friends, a family home or a romantic relationship that involved drug and/or alcohol misuse. However, as an individual begins to feel more at home in the sober world it’s important that the circle of support expands, just a little.
Finding people who are a positive influence on your recovery, whom you also truly enjoy hanging out with, may be difficult, at first, but similar to messages in recovery—”don’t give up.” In time, you may be surprised how close you become to folks whom you relate to a significant aspect of your life, addition.
Some people move across the country to try their hand at recovery. Geography is one of those aspects of culture that impacts our personality in subtle ways. Perhaps someone from the west coast feels uncomfortable living in south Florida, where they decided to go to treatment. This is why The Fellowship of recovery tends to be pretty welcoming. In general, many people are transplants. Having left a toxic environment where they knew in their heart that if they didn’t leave, they could more easily pick up a drink or drug of choice. It can be very wise to pack a bag when you are serious about going to rehab. Once you feel strong in your recovery, home might be an option. However, many do decide to continue to live where their sober seeds first took root.
As you grow in your recovery your life completely transforms. Home might not be the same anymore because you’ve changed for the better and everything there has stayed the same. It’s important to maintain communication with loved ones who support your personal growth and want to see you live a happy and fulfilling life. Find balance with the distance by making the time to stay connected to the ones you love. Continue to achieve balance by meeting like-minded peers in recovery, below are some suggestions that might help you along the path.
Having a strong recovery program generally involves volunteering either within your recovery community or in your community as a whole. It is proven that when we give our time selflessly to our community or a cause that our lives are enriched in many ways. There is a full mind, body and spiritual benefit happening. Psychologically we are taking ourselves out of the center of our universe and “being of service” to others. Many people start their service work at the clubhouse where they attend Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. If the meetings you attend are at a church or community center there are likely opportunities for you to volunteer there.
Where ever you live there will be opportunities to volunteer in your community. Through these avenues, you are likely to meet a person or two that can be a positive peer support. For someone to be a positive peer support they will either be in recovery, involved in another 12 Step program (such as Al-Anon for example) or someone who completely abstained while you are hanging out. For example, a family member who is not in recovery can be a sober support. Anyone who is supportive of your recovery will likely understand what might be triggering for you. If the obvious is not being observed, use skills your gaining from the program and communicate your needs to your family and friends when necessary.
If you are a part of the LGBTQ community and in recovery, your local LGBTQ at center might and volunteering with different kinds of LGBTQ-focused events. For example, in larger cities, there are usually LGBTQ youth centers or support programs. For those who are LGBTQ volunteering within the LGBTQ community can be an incredible way to feel a part of YOUR community. You might need to become a part of your local LGBTQ community center in some capacity before you can acquire a volunteer position. This might be through a paid membership or attending meetings that are held at the center. Many LGBTQ community centers host annual and monthly events. This is a great opportunity to be of service, as well as, meet peers.
If you’re shy or have a hard time meeting new people, I suggest you introduce yourself to someone who appears to be very involved in the center, let them know you’re new to town or new to the center and would love help meeting people. Mentioning that to the right person can potentially open the doors of opportunity for you to meet a whole slew of new friends.
LGBTQ advocacy is another great opportunity for LGBTQ folks to volunteer in their community. A life of recovery can really provide one with a strong sense of purpose, having removed a major distraction from their life—active addiction. Advocacy for the equal rights and opportunities for LGBTQ people is just as important today than it was 50 years ago in the years leading up to the Stonewall Riots. LGBTQ rights are a roller coaster or gains and losses. By participating in the role of community organizer and human rights activist, individuals can be a part of the change they wish to see in the world. There are local and national groups that provide volunteer opportunities, such as the Human Rights Campaign. Check out this list of LGBTQ rights organizations in the United States to find out about more opportunities near you.
In addition to finding opportunities to meet positive peer supports through service in your community, every solid recovery program involves a 12 step sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has worked the 12 steps of recovery and has a strong recovery program themselves. This person does not necessarily need to be your friend, you can consider the relationship to be a bit more professional. This is because of the importance of your sponsor being able to hold you accountable to your step work, the way a boss or manager at your job holds you accountable to your job. For example, at Inspire Recovery we feel that clients can see the best results in their recovery from addiction if they find a sponsor to work the 12 steps with outside of our center. Clients are encouraged to find a sponsor through the meeting houses they attend for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Client advocates at Inspire Recovery can also help to connect clients to sponsors that have worked the steps. We feel that it is helpful for a client to have strong sober supports that are in addition to the incredible staff at Inspire and the peers that clients spend the majority of their time with.
At Inspire Recovery we feel that clients can see the best results in their recovery from addiction if they find a sponsor to work the 12 steps with outside of our center. Clients are encouraged to find a sponsor through the meeting houses they attend for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Client advocates at Inspire Recovery can also help to connect clients to sponsors that have worked the steps. We feel that it is helpful for a client to have strong sober supports that are in addition to the incredible staff at Inspire and the peers that clients spend the majority of their time with. Building a network of support is a responsible way to strengthen your program. In recovery, it’s important to learn to form healthy relationships with people you rely on that are also not co-dependent. To learn more about preventing co-dependency in recovery, have a read of our article.