Going it completely alone in recovery can be a real risk as feelings of loneliness and isolation could encourage relapse. The reality is that humans are social animals, so it can be hard for them to cope without at least some type of support or interaction. Some individuals are resistant to the idea of recovery fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are other ways that they could benefit from a sense of community.
The Benefits of Community in Recovery
Socialising is one of the great joys in life, but this is not the only reason why belonging to a community is important. This group can provide a number of important functions, such as:
- a feedback mechanisms on behaviour – for example, members of the community can let the person know how well or how badly they are doing
- practical support – for example, lending money in a crisis
- emotional support
- a source of information and advice
- people to look up to and learn from (psychologists believe that modelling is one of the most important ways that humans learn)
- people to turn to when life feels overwhelming
- a source of encouragement
- people to socialise with.
Belonging to a community could mean feeling stronger when dealing with life, which also means less likely to suffer from negative effects of self-obsession.
The Right Community in Recovery
It is important in recovery not only to have a community but also the right type of community. In fact, spending time with the wrong type of person could be very detrimental. A common mistake that many make when they first become sober is to continue spending time with their drinking or drug using friends of the past. This is extremely dangerous because it means being surrounded by temptation, and these individuals may actively try to sabotage the recovery. It is often said that an individual becomes the average of the five people he or she spends time with, so belonging to a community of substances abusers would be a bad idea.
One of the great benefits of joining a recovery fellowship is it means having access to a readymade community of individuals who are all striving towards sobriety. Many of the members of these groups will have achieved long-term sobriety, so they can be very good role models. It is also possible to find inspirational friends outside of the recovery fellowships – the most important thing is that the individual spends time with those who have something that they want, such as a strong sobriety.
How to Find a Community in Recovery
There are actually many options for finding a community in recovery, including:
- joining a recovery fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery
- attending group therapy sessions
- joining an online recovery community (this would include things like online forums)
- spending time with family and existing friends (preferably people who are not abusing alcohol or drugs)
- making friends at the gym, an activity club, or night class
- doing voluntary work.
How to Get the Most out of a Community in Recovery
In order to be a successful member of a community, it has to be as much about giving as it is about taking. Individuals can be a little put out by those who are too needy and demanding. Being part of a community means being there for one another. It is all about sharing and not about using others in order to get something out of them.