Connection and Your Recovery – The Importance of Creating Social Supports
Authored by Morgan Werner
Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” explains that one of our most basic needs as human beings is to feel a sense of belonging. Creating a strong bond with others can increase happiness and overall satisfaction with life, and helps manage stress. Dr. Robert Waldinger, the current director of one of the longest-running studies to date, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, relays the findings of the study in what’s now one of the most viewed TED Talks – “people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community – are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected.”
Whether you have 10 days or 10 years in recovery, making and maintaining connections with likeminded individuals will help you find fulfillment in your new, sober life. Remember, active addiction is isolating, but recovery doesn’t have to be!
Put Down Roots in Your Communities
Studies show that the risk of relapse is greatly reduced when an individual is immersed in a strong recovery community. If you’re part of a 12-step fellowship, then you know that attending meetings and getting in service are great ways to make and maintain existing sober supports. The connections that you make within the rooms are bonds that could potentially last a lifetime, as the people within your network will often be those that hold you accountable and are there to listen when you’re in need of some extra support.
If you’re finding yourself burnt out or bored, don’t worry it happens! Consider socializing with your recovery community outside of the rooms:
- Plan a day at the lake – rent kayaks, throw a frisbee around, and ask your attendees to bring a picnic item for after you’ve worked up an appetite!
- Go roller skating – whether you’re a pro or it’s your first time, roller skating will always turn up lots of laughs!
- Host a game night – board games, card games, or video games – you choose! Either way, a game night is a great way to socialize and bond without drugs or alcohol.
Your recovery community isn’t the only community that needs you! Now that you’re living a clean and sober life, consider making connections right in your neighborhood – this will increase your sense of belonging and overall happiness. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Take a class or join a group – whether it’s knitting, running, or gardening that strikes your interest, it’s likely that your area offers plenty of groups and classes to choose from.
- Volunteer – organize a park cleanup with friends, serve dinner at your local soup kitchen, or offer your time at an animal shelter. However you choose to volunteer your time, doing so will help you forge new connections and provide you with a sense of purpose and community integration.
Bond with Your Sponsor
If you are involved in a 12-step program, at one point or another, you will be encouraged to seek out a sponsor. If you already have a sponsor, then you know that this relationship is likely one of the most significant relationships in your recovery. Attending meetings and going through the 12 steps together are the basics of sponsorship, but your relationship doesn’t have to end there – this bond can lead to a lifelong, fulfilling friendship for each of you, so find new ways to connect with one another. Here are some ideas:
- Plan a camping trip for your sponsee family – invite your sponsor, their grand-sponsor, and their sponsees. Camping trips are a fun opportunity to get away, connect with nature, and fellowship with your support network.
- Take a cooking, pottery, or painting class with your sponsor – learning a new skill can be exciting and challenging, who better to experience this with than your sponsor?
- Explore your local city together – scope out museums, parks, cafés, farmer’s markets, and end the day with a little window shopping.
Remember, recovery is about finding a new way to live without drugs and alcohol, so allow your sponsor to come along for the ride!
Connect with Your Fellow Alumni
Did you know that the RCA Alumni association is right in your neighborhood? With 18 established chapters, there are plenty of local alumni, waiting to welcome you with open arms – you may even recognize a few friendly faces! Check out our Alumni page to find a chapter nearest you. Don’t see one? We encourage you to start one!
Wherever you end up geographically post treatment, we here at RCA believe that having a chapter of the Alumni Association accessible nearby, will help you stay linked with treatment and your RCA recovery community. Because each chapter is run by our alumni, there are plenty of opportunities to get in service. Whether you wish to chair a meeting, commit to a speaking engagement, mentor newly discharged alumni, or plan one of our exciting events, volunteering your time can strengthen your own individual recovery.
We also recognize that the relationships you have with family and friends can become strained during active addiction, and that rebuilding these relationships in recovery is key for long term success. Studies show that social support from family and friends has been consistently found to predict positive outcomes, which is why our Alumni Association encourages loved ones to also take part.
If you are interested in the Alumni Association, or need more information, please email the alumni office firstname.lastname@example.org