No man is an island, they say. We all need support from other people to thrive. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia we encourage participants in our program to build strong sober support systems to enhance their lives during and after treatment.

Why Sober Support Matters

No one can navigate this life alone. We all need people we can rely on, who will celebrate us, hold us accountable, and help us grow. When a person enters recovery, they continue to need support from other people for a variety of reasons.

  • Fight isolation – When a person is in active addiction, it is not uncommon for them to become distanced from friends and family. Instead, they may surround themselves with people who encourage their substance use. When they get sober, they may feel lonely and isolated as they repair relationships with loved ones and distance themselves from the friends who do not support their recovery journey.  
  • Gain perspective – if no one in your life has experienced addiction and then gotten sober, they may not recognize signs of impending relapse or know how to help you when you hit a plateau in your recovery journey. Sponsors and sober friends who have been there can point you in the right direction by helping you set realistic expectations and identify ways you can continue to grow.
  • Feel understood – Sometimes the people who love us aren’t able to help because they don’t know what it is like to be in our shoes. Sometimes it is nice just to feel like someone gets where you’re coming from and won’t judge you for struggling.
  • See that it can be done – Witnessing other people thriving in their sober lives can provide a type of roadmap for accomplishing the same, and it can make the scary and overwhelming proposition of recovery seem far more attainable.
  • Gain an opportunity to help others – Not only can a person in recovery benefit from having a sober support system, but they can also become a sober support for other people. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that this is the best way to stay sober. “You have to give it away to keep it,” is a mantra that is often repeated within AA circles.

Where to Find Sober Supports

The most obvious place to look for sober support is probably within the recovery community, but there are a lot of people who choose to live sober lifestyles, and you could meet them in other realms of your life without even realizing it. However, it is important to remember that all of the social outlets below can have downsides for sobriety as well: 

  • Your house of worship – this environment can help people in recovery connect with a higher power, and it also often discourages substance use. On the other hand, there may be little understanding of addiction unless you happen to connect with someone who is also in recovery. One way to avoid this issue is to join a faith-based recovery group like Celebrate Recovery.
  • Therapy group – there is considerable overlap between addiction and mental health. You may find that there are people in your mental health circle who are also trying to stay sober. The flip side of this relationship could be that if either of you has a mental health or substance-related relapse, you could be a negative influence on the other.
  • Fitness community – not only do substances get in the way of athletic performance, but many people are encouraged to exercise as part of their recovery plan. You might be surprised how many people at the gym are there as part of their sobriety goals. However, not everyone in the fitness world understands addiction, and some take performance-enhancing drugs, drink excessively, or are addicted to exercise.
  • Volunteer activities – people in recovery are encouraged to give back, and people who stay busy with volunteer obligations don’t always have much time to use substances. Even so, there is no guarantee that people who volunteer don’t engage in behaviors that aren’t good influences on your recovery.
  • Your job – most adults spend a lot of time at their jobs, and it can be hard to maintain employment if you’re in active addiction, so sometimes work can be a place to find other sober people. On the other hand, some people hide their addiction well, and you may find that your co-workers aren’t the best people to lean on for recovery support.

You may also find that as you make amends and demonstrate your dedication to living in recovery, some of the loved ones who became distant during your active addiction are interested in rebuilding the relationship you had before.

At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we provide 12-step groups and alumni events, so that participants in our program can build their sober support network during and after their involvement in our treatment program.