Alcohol and substance use disorders are isolating conditions. As drinking and drug use gets worse, colleagues, friends, and family members start asking more questions. Their increasing intrusion makes it harder to drink and use drugs without raising any red flags. It’s easier to withdraw from them to avoid their concerns if you aren’t ready to stop using substances.
However, the tendency to isolate makes it much harder to ask for help once you’re finally ready to quit. The distance you put between yourself and your loved ones, as well as the stigma associated with addiction, can cause deep feelings of remorse and shame. Will anyone really want to help you after you cut them out for months or years?
Truth is, those who care about you will want to be there for you. They’ve likely been waiting for you to make a change. Your desire to leave substances behind will be welcome news to your loved ones. But learning to overcome that learned isolation and reach out in recovery will be challenging.0
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. You shouldn’t have to handle your recovery alone. Finding different ways to reach out in recovery will make it easier for you to stay sober. What are some things you can do to connect with others and keep from isolating after beginning your journey in sobriety?
Start by reaching out to friends and family. No matter how difficult or overwhelming it may feel, your family and friends want to hear from you. They have, undoubtedly, spent a considerable amount of time worried about you. Now that you’re ready to live a life of recovery, they’ll be grateful to hear from you.
You may also realize that people you thought were friends before aren’t actually your friends at all. Fair-weather friends or your drinking buddies aren’t helpful or healthy people to keep around. Instead, reconnect with loved ones who have your best interests in mind and want to see you do well. All you have to do is ask.
Recovery support groups are great resources for anyone trying to overcome addiction. While 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are the most popular, they are by no means the only programs available. More groups are taking shape as more people turn to an alcohol- and drug-free life.
Some alternative options to 12-step groups include SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), or HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support).
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for recovery and each of these groups addresses different needs. Ultimately, a recovery support group keeps you from trying to manage your recovery alone. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded and recovery-oriented individuals is a crucial part of maintaining your sobriety.
Not everything you do has to be recovery-focused. Separating from alcohol is only one part of your whole life. There’s plenty to see and do in the world that your alcohol use kept you from participating in for years. Join a club or class that focuses on something you enjoy doing and begin engaging with your hobbies again.
Sign up for a class at the local community college, join a group at your nearby community center, participate in a rec league at your local sports fields, or volunteer at a local organization that does work important to you. Getting involved in your community connects you with others who share similar interests and passions that you enjoy.
Quitting drinking is only the start of your recovery; growth happens once the substances are out of your system. One of the best things you can do to support your recovery is to go to counseling or therapy. These tools connect you with a mental health professional who encourages your journey and pushes you to continue growing.
Finding a counselor, therapist, or psychologist can help you overcome the stumbling blocks that have held you back for years. They’ll work with you to determine some goals for your life and then outline the most effective path to achieve them. Seeking counseling is a great way to make use of your recovery and amplify your life.