Addiction Treatment & Addiction Therapy Options

How Important Is It to Build Friendships in My Support Group?

How Important Is It to Build Friendships in My Support Group?

Friendships are important for everyone, but perhaps even more so for recovering addicts. To understand why it is important to make friends in support groups, learn more about tools that help you succeed in recovery, get a clearer picture of the benefits of sober friends and explore how you can foster positive relationships with people in support groups.

Tools for Success in Addiction Recovery

You have probably heard that recovery is a journey, not a destination. Indeed, it is a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, feelings, goals, skills and roles. In other words, recovery must become a way of leading a satisfying, hopeful and fulfilling life that sends you away from drugs. To support this change, you must develop new meaning and purpose in your life. As described in the document, Promoting Wellness & Recovery Through Self-Help Groups, there are four fundamental tools that people need to succeed in recovery. Even though everyone’s road to recovery will be unique, all recovering addicts need the following basic needs:

  • Hope – Recovery demands that you have goals along with the motivation and plan to achieve them. Friendships in a support group can help give you hope for the future, because the people who attend group meetings have felt as scared and unsure of their futures as you do about yours. In other words, friendships that you form in support can inspire you, give you optimism and can reaffirm your commitment to recovery.
  • Social support – Recovering addicts need supportive environments in which to thrive, so people who believe in recovery and who support you will be vital for your sobriety. In other words, you can increase your sense of belonging, purpose and self-worth if you talk about how addiction affects your life with people who truly understand. It is powerful to share your story in an atmosphere of trust and understanding, which means without the fear of being judged or ridiculed. Feeling accepted and understood can have many benefits beyond the support group, as these feelings can lay the foundation for other social activities in which you engage.
  • Empowerment –Many recovering addicts grieve a loss of self, power, meaning and/or hope, so they need to regain a sense of self-management and self-direction in order to stay clean for the long haul. By simply participating in a support group, you can help other recovering addicts by sharing your experiences, coping skills and strategies for recovery while you listen to, validate and accept those people.
  • Education – People in recovery need to educate themselves about their illness, diagnosis, triggers, available treatments, medications, community resources and anything else that affects their wellbeing. However, sharing this information with other people saves you time, money and energy. With an array of knowledge and coping skills to choose from, you can pick which strategies would work best for you, which increases your sense of self-direction.

Friendships in your support group can provide these fundamental tools not only during your support group sessions, but also throughout your everyday life.

Benefits of Friendships in Recovery

From the Mayo Clinic post, Social support: Tap this tool to beat stress, recovering addicts can learn to better manage their stress. Drug addicts are under the same stressors that other people experience, but recovering addicts have the additional stress of staying clean. Stress damages everyone’s life, but it can trigger such pain that recovering addicts will consider self-medicating their symptoms with drugs or alcohol. However, when you have a social support network, you can benefit in the following ways:

  • Sense of belonging – Spending time with people wards off loneliness and helps you stay focused on recovery
  • Increased self-worth – Having friends reinforces the idea that you are good to be around. You may lower your self-esteem if you berate yourself for your addiction and if other people avoid you while you were abusing drugs; however, friendships in support groups accept you, never judge you and share experiences with you that build your sense of self.
  • Feeling of security – Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance

Building a social support network is a wise investment not only for your mental wellbeing, but also for your physical health and longevity. Get clean and find friends who support you to lead a better life.

How to Make and Keep Positive Friendships in Recovery

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides considerable information on many aspects of addiction and recovery, especially friendship. In their document, Making and Keeping Friends—A Self-Help Guide, they define the following qualities of strong friendships:

  • Independence and self-sufficiency
  • Being positive, upbeat and warm
  • Talking about others in positive ways
  • Being honest and dependable
  • Doing your share of both the talking and listening
  • Respecting the other person’s feelings
  • Keeping yourself clean and well-groomed
  • Accepting your individual differences
  • Listening closely without interrupting
  • Being nonjudgmental

You can develop many of these characteristics in support group meetings and by making friendships among group members. In short, recovery can become a lifestyle, not just a one-time stint in rehab.

Learn More About Friendships in Support Groups

Call our toll-free helpline now, as our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to connect you with useful resources that promote addiction recovery. You can get clean with the right help.