The Role of Community in Recovery

December 21, 2022

Written By: Robert J. Miles MSN RN, BS Nutrition

Addiction recovery is a long journey. However, despite the challenges presented, nobody ever has to embark on such a journey alone. Community is a part of many professional treatment and recovery plans from the very beginning. Likewise, community plays a major role in a successful recovery from the use of drugs or alcohol. Understanding the role that community plays and the advantages it provides for recovery are instrumental in ensuring that individuals are utilizing social support throughout their long-term sobriety. 

The Need for Community

Suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is an incredibly isolating experience. Some may begin to engage in self-isolating practices, either physically closing themselves off by avoiding spending time with loved ones. Others may become emotionally distant, making it difficult to have meaningful conversations or nurture important relationships. Pervasive feelings of shame or guilt are common as a result of addiction. Likewise, it is common for those who are struggling with addiction to feel that they would not be understood by others regarding the challenges they face.

Still, these isolating thoughts and behaviors have many detrimental effects on health, increasing feelings of anxiety and depression and further facilitating the cycle of substance use. Engaging with an understanding and empowering community not only challenges these self-isolationist tendencies but also provides resources to help an individual continue their journey to healthy, sustained sobriety.

The Benefits of Community

Community has many profound advantages for those both just beginning their recovery journey or who have been balancing their sobriety and daily life long-term. Each community will have its own atmosphere, and finding the right community is essential for a truly transformative recovery journey.

Challenges Hurtful Stigmas

There is, unfortunately, a myriad of stigmas still surrounding addiction and recovery. Inevitably, these stigmas can bring even further feelings of isolation. Feelings of shame, guilt, and more are all common at any recovery stage. Finding a dedicated treatment facility and community can directly challenge these notions.

Fosters Acceptance and Understanding

It can be incredibly empowering to find others who share similar experiences and challenges but also sympathize with personal recovery efforts. Addiction is not the result of any kind of moral failing. Being surrounded by those who are understanding and accepting can make a massive difference in an individual’s recovery efforts and motivation to overcome the challenges ahead.

Identifying a Community That Works for You

Not all communities will be the same. Engaging in an effective community means considering many different factors. While being a part of a dedicated, sober, and recovery-focused community is crucial throughout recovery, it is not the only beneficial community where one can thrive. Rather, understanding the different forms each community can take and the benefits they offer can empower each individual to find the right community or collection of communities that best supports their newfound sober life.

Utilizing Dedicated Recovery Communities

Recovery communities that are intimately tied to sobriety efforts are essential. For many, this takes the form of residential treatment or intensive outpatient programs, each providing group therapy to introduce an individual to like-minded and sympathetic peers. These communities are essential for continued recovery success as they foster new perspectives and support to help an individual better focus on their sober goals. Peers and professionals alike can be great resources for developing new coping strategies at any stage of recovery. These dedicated recovery communities can also normalize recovery challenges and provide direct, pertinent strategies and perspectives to address personal needs in recovery.

Finding a Social Outlet

However, being a part of a community doesn’t mean that a person must limit themselves only to these direct recovery outlets. Rather, communities that focus on a hobby or interest can be just as beneficial. While an individual may not have access to the same level of understanding or education when it comes to the effects of addiction, participating in other communities can still have its own benefits.

For some, this can empower an individual to pursue new hobbies or interests in sobriety. This can help an individual further define their developing sober identity and distance themselves from past behaviors or social groups. Getting involved with a sports league or artistic community, or finding local interest groups surrounding cinema, book clubs, and more can all help an individual engage in new social outlets while they prioritize their sobriety.

Using Digital Mediums

It is possible that those in recovery can continue to feel isolated in their challenges. Many individuals may not necessarily have direct access to an in-person, local community that shares their interests. Digital mediums can still allow an individual to focus on their own interests while connecting with others across the globe.

Using digital forums to find communities can ensure that an individual is pursuing a community based on genuine personal interest and surrounding oneself with peers in this space. Likewise, digital recovery-focused communities can also ensure that one never feels alone or without new ideas to try in their recovery. Eschewing traditional social media sites for recovery-focused alternatives such as SoberGrid can all continue to normalize a person’s continued recovery efforts. 

Communities of all kinds play an important role in your recovery journey. We at Buena Vista Recovery pride ourselves on curating an effective, supportive atmosphere for you to explore your recovery. With an array of trained, caring professionals and like-minded, supportive peers, we create an understanding atmosphere for you to address your needs, goals, and vulnerabilities in recovery while championing your strengths and success. From dedicated inpatient treatment to intensive outpatient programs, we are available to connect you with others to share in the challenges and milestones of your recovery journey. For more information on how we can provide a recovery community that is right for you, call to speak to us today at (480) 741-9414.