When we enter the early stages of post-treatment recovery, it’s the people around us that comprise our support system and will ultimately be our primary source of strength on some of our most vulnerable days. Despite it being a critical element of our continuing recovery, it can be harder than we may realize to find quality people to make up our support system. Some may find the pressure to be too much, some may think they understand what it means but wind up keeping their distance from us and others want no part of it for other reasons that have to do with our period of active substance abuse.
While all that’s required of those in our support system is an understanding of our struggle in addiction recovery, some may find it hard to look past the behavior we exhibited when we were abusing drugs and alcohol. While family, in whatever form, is an integral part of our daily recovery, it can be difficult for even our closest family members to forgive and forget what we put them through in our pasts. The journey for forgiveness can often go well beyond the 12-Step process, and before we can count on a friend or family member for support, we have to make sure they’re able to look past our previous behavior.
What, then, are the qualities that we should look for in a member of our support system? For starters, we should make sure they understand the full parameters of our substance abuse and the damage it caused in our lives. This level of understanding will help them to understand our obligations in recovery and our everyday routines as we endeavor to repair our lives and relationships. It will also be easier for us to ask for their assistance in certain logistical matters (rides to meetings, involvement in family therapy, etc.). It’s important that we start building our support system in treatment so we can hit the ground running after we complete our program.
While our support systems tend to be comprised of family members, it’s different for everyone based upon their individual lives and communities. The important thing is to find genuine support and guidance wherever we can find it, whether that means in our nuclear families or in a group of close friends. On some days, these groups of people may be the only thing standing between permanent sobriety and relapse from drug and alcohol abuse.