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Is a Social Life Valuable in Recovery?

Is a Social Life Valuable in Recovery?

Because human beings are social by nature, developing healthy relationships with others is an integral part of your recovery

You can’t find your sponsor, and the urge to use drugs is growing by the minute.

You had a painful, emotional discussion with a family member, but your next counseling session is next week.

You are at a work convention in another city, and you are invited to go drinking with colleagues from another company.

These three situations are all too common and all too real for people who are trying to stay on the path of recovery from drugs. They also illustrate the importance of constructive and sober friends. A healthy social life can be a lifeline to recovery and continued sobriety. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAHMSA) has identified community (supportive relationships and social networks) as one of the four major dimensions that support a life of recovery. The others include health, home and purpose.

Why Social Life Matters

Studies show that social interactions matter, but why are those social connections so critical? An article from Huffington Post provides that answer: people innately need connections. We as human beings need to form relationships with other people. If we don’t form bonds with other people, the article argues, we will connect with something else, like drugs. In the absence of the real satisfaction that relationships provide, we will find some sort of unhealthy substitute. Without understanding the importance of a social life and without a commitment to cultivate meaningful relationships with others, you are setting yourself up for relapse.

What A Social Life Can Provide

When it comes to addiction recovery, a social life provides many benefits directly and indirectly. For example, the American Sociological Association, knowing people in different social contexts improves your chances of getting a good job, which is especially important if you lost your job as a result of your addiction. That same article pointed out that friendships help you develop your interests, which is also important in recovery, since you probably lost interest in everything but drugs as an addict.

Other reasons a social life is important include:

A longer life. An article from the New York Times reported that people who have strong relationships with friends, family and coworkers have a 50 percent lower risk of dying over a given time period than people with fewer social connection. This is especially true in addiction recovery. When you were using drugs, you risked your life because anyone can overdose at any time. Having people who love you and support your recovery could literally save your life.

An antidote for loneliness. One of the major problems for recovering addicts is loneliness. In fact, Psych Central indicates that loneliness is one of the major contributors to relapse. This is because you often have to let go of drug-using friends in order to remain sober and clean. At the same time, you are still in the process of rebuilding damaged relationships or establishing new ones. Having a network of people you can contact and connect with when you’re lonely can be a critical element in your recovery.

Stress-busting. Social relationships are helpful in alleviating stress in difficult times. They serve as a much-needed sounding board for venting your frustrations, fears and temptations. Healthy friends can be a safe place to share how you are doing in your life of recovery. They can offer perspective and even advice on how to deal with a stressful situation in a positive way.

Avoiding relapse. A 2006 article in the journal Alcohol Treatment Quarterly indicated that people who have more social support are less likely to relapse. Conversely, if you don’t have social support, you’re at a greater risk for relapse. This is because friends provide support, fun, encouragement, accountability and a positive example. Hanging out with people who support your ongoing rehab can make or break your recovery.

These are just a few of the reasons why a social life is so critically important in recovery. There’s an old adage that says it takes a village to raise a child. In much the same way, it takes a community to help you stay on the path of recovery. Not only do you need the help of others, but others need your help, too. You can be an example to those who are just starting on the recovery journey.

Where to Find Social Connections

If you are rebuilding your relationships after being steeped in addiction, you may find it difficult to make new friends who will support your ongoing recovery. However, there are lots of different places where you can develop new social connections.

Places to find new friends include:

  • Recovery groups
  • Hobby groups
  • Continuing education classes
  • Online recovery groups
  • Church or other similar places
  • Book clubs
  • Gym or rec center
  • Work
  • Other friends
  • Family members
  • Sporting events

Friendships can develop anywhere. The key is putting yourself out there to try new ventures and meet new people. You never know where you’ll find a great social life.

Getting Help For Your Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, we can help. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call our toll free helpline any time. We’d love to help.