At any stage of recovery, you may very well have relationships on your mind. So let’s talk about relationships in recovery—but not the romantic kind. Let’s talk about the relationships you will need to survive and thrive in recovery from addiction.
This blog post will review five vital relationships in recovery, including those with a peer-support network, a sponsor, a higher power, society and a relationship with oneself.
Healthy Relationships in the Recovery World
Peer Network. Many of those in the grip of a substance use disorder find themselves isolated from others. As isolation fuels addiction, recovery depends on forming positive social connections with others. A peer-support network is a community of people who have shared a similar experience, who know the pain and struggle from the inside, and yet are united in their commitment to a new way of living. Through the encouragement, education and support provided by a peer network, there is evidence of a lower risk of relapse, decreases in depression and overall enhancement in quality of life through mutual support.
Building a peer support network can begin in treatment. For example, Recovery Centers of America (RCA) offers several types of specialized treatment programs, which will connect you to a community of people with the same treatment focus, who you can relate to and grow with in the process of recovery. These programs include our Young Adults program for both Young Men and Young Women, Evolutions program for older adults, PRISE program for patients who have relapsed, Breaking Free program for patients with trauma, First Responders program for first responders and military, Christian Faith-Based program and Acceptance for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Upon re-entering society, you’ll want to keep in touch with your RCA family and network through the RCA Alumni Association. We have a robust line-up of activities and events to keep you connected. Additionally, becoming involved in a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, is an option to bring you immediately into a recovery community. Meetings will allow you to share your own experience, listen to others, and develop relationships with individuals and groups—all guided by the desire to live a better life with the help of one another.
Sponsor. Through RCA’s Alumni Association and 12-step meetings, you will also find a sponsor. The primary purpose of this relationship is for the sponsor to take you, the sponsee, through the 12 steps and the process of recovery. More generally, a sponsor is someone who can guide you through a life of recovery, and with whom you over time should feel comfortable sharing anything in relation to recovery. The upshot is a singular and richly rewarding relationship for both parties.
To find a sponsor, simply approach someone from a meeting whose recovery you admire. If this feels daunting or not obvious, just sharing about that at a meeting will alert the community around you to help find a sponsor for you.
Higher Power. Addiction is a mental, physical and spiritual disease. The 12-step programs approach the spiritual component through the second step: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Entering such a relation allows you to give up control and accept help outside yourself. It is also integral to developing a spiritually strong life, assisting in coming to terms with past pain and ongoing obstacles. For those already religious, their higher power might simply be God. For others it could be reality, the universe, their program, the people who mean the most to them, etc. Such programs will then help set you on the path of a relationship with your higher power—however you might come to understand it—forging a spiritual bond capable of carrying you in good times and bad.
Society. As addiction causes conflicts with our communities, recovery repairs them. You restore relations with local groups and with society at large. Whereas you once took, you are now in a position to give. This process often begins by returning to work or school, dealing differently with these communities through the tools you have gained in recovery.
Self. In addition to relationships with a peer-support network, a sponsor, and a higher power, you will also re-establish the most important relationship of all—a relationship with yourself. Having been separated from others and the world, you also became estranged from yourself—from your thoughts, feelings and actions. You will reconnect with parts of yourself hidden through addiction, and develop other aspects of yourself for the first time. Through this process, you will find meaning and purpose, while discovering new sources of happiness and fulfillment.
This reminds us that recovery is a journey of love between oneself and others. This is a lesson we can learn through the experience of triathlete and sobriety advocate Scott Strode, who overcame the crippling fear that tied him to drugs and alcohol. At RCA’s upcoming alumni speaker series featuring Scott, hear how he prevailed in this struggle, boldly embracing the world, and finding an authentic, powerful version of himself in the process. Not only will you gain insight through his inspiring example, but, as with any alumni event, you will have the opportunity to connect with your fellow travelers in recovery.
Whatever form your journey of recovery takes, you can establish better relations with yourself, others and the world as it is. You can overcome your fear, face life head on, and do so backed by the strength and support of your friends in recovery.
Become who you are—among others.
You never have to be alone again. Call Recovery Centers of America now: 1-800-RECOVERY.