The Value of Social Support in Addiction Recovery

If you're in the process of addiction recovery, here are some of the reasons why social support in addiction recovery is essential

Concept for addiction recovery

Addiction recovery is a process that requires as much support as you can receive. Trying to go through addiction recovery in isolation may be a very difficult process that sometimes leads to a relapse. The relapse is triggered by feelings of failure to remain sober or anxiety/depression from being judged and misunderstood because of the addiction period.

If you’re in the process of addiction recovery, here are some of the reasons why social support in addiction recovery is essential for growth and wellness.

5 ways social support is important for addiction recovery

1. Accountability

The process of addiction recovery requires accountability partners because it’s not an easy decision. As the days roll by, you may find yourself in situations that trigger feelings of needing to resort to alcohol, drugs, or gambling—depending on the addiction.

For instance, if you accompany friends to watch a game at a sports bar, you’re surrounded by alcohol. It may still be extremely difficult to be in such an environment and resist drinking alcohol. You may begin by saying it’s only one drink, yet you might find that you easily relapse once you begin.

Social support—be it a group of people who are non-drinkers or an accountability partner—may help you avoid relapsing in such a situation. The people you’re accountable to will help you avoid spaces such as sports bars, for example, and replace them with less triggering activities. Should you be in a position where you indulged in alcohol during the game, accountability partners will help you get back on the recovery track as much as you let them.

If you might wonder why are therapeutic communities successful, it comes down to the fact that they help create environments in which you’ll thrive while recovering.

2. Avoiding isolation

The recovery process can be isolating in that you may feel as if you’re the only person experiencing the mental, physical, and emotional distress that normally comes with recovering. Social support communities help you realize that you aren’t the only person experiencing the dynamics that come with being in the recovery process. You may get to meet people in the same process as you, meaning that you don’t feel as isolated.

A support group for addiction recovery
Social support communities help you realize that you are not alone

Together, you can share the struggles and successes that you come across daily. In some cases you get to create rapport, and in some others, long-lasting friendships where you encourage each other to continue growing into an addiction-free lifestyle.

Feeling isolated may trigger a relapse as you may resort to the addiction to numb feelings of loneliness and depression. Being isolated also means that you have more room to toil with negative thoughts without any support to help redirect your thoughts positively. A simple outing with your friends may help keep you on the path to recovery as you be positively distracted.

3. Talk therapy

Talk therapy means being in a space where you can discuss addiction and recovery with professionals and therapists who provide a non-judgmental space. In most cases, people try to recover in secret because of the fear of being judged and attached to the stigma that comes with addictions in society.

By finding a social support system that includes professionals, you can discover the root causes of addiction and analyze beyond the surface causes of the addiction. You may recover just by deciding that you no longer indulge in the substances, but uncovering the root cause means you’ll be able to identify triggers and respond quickly.

For example, if the addiction was an escape from repressed emotions that stem from childhood, talk therapy will help uncover this dynamic. As you deal with childhood traumas with professionals, you begin to heal and recover holistically.

4. Feelings of hope

When you’re around a support system, you can enjoy the feelings of hope that you may have otherwise forgotten. The mental, physical and emotional cloud may seem so dark that you may sometimes feel like giving up and resorting to your old ways. Nonetheless, being around others who’ve successfully gone through the recovery process may give you hope each day that you, too, will succeed.

5. Self-love and forgiveness

A social support system demonstrates the love, patience, and forgiveness you ought to show yourself. It’s normal to feel guilt and self-resentment during the recovery process, particularly if relationships were destroyed during the addiction phase. However, persistent negative feelings towards yourself are harmful as you may regress due to these heavy emotions.

When you’re a part of a support group, you experience the forgiveness, encouragement, hope, and friendship you ought to yourself. From these expressions, you can learn to turn inwards and grant yourself the same values. As time goes by, you may realize that you are too harsh and judgmental of yourself and that you are lovable, seeing that others can express such things to you.

6. Positive socialization

A social support group doesn’t always have to be in a formal setting or constantly discuss issues regarding your recovery process. It can be in positive socialization such as reading clubs, skating groups, or arts and crafts social circles. Such activities enhance your skills which in turn help you focus on positive aspects of growth and minimize regressing.

If you aren’t interested in joining such activity clubs, you can identify people you’d enjoy taking a walk with or simply enjoying afternoon tea. As long as the circles include positive interaction, which doesn’t trigger addiction, you’re bound to benefit.


The recovery process requires patience, intention, and determination, meaning you need a social support system. With support, you get to be accountable for your decisions and choices, leading you forward or triggering a relapse. You also avoid prolonged periods of isolation which may cause negative thought patterns leading to relapse periods.

Support in talk therapy means you uncover root problems, equipping you with strong coping mechanisms. As you recover, you get to implement encouragement, love, and patience inwards as you learn from those who support you. Positive socialization means you develop meaningful skills and enjoy safety and wellness with others.

As you recover, remember that some days may seem more successful than others. Keep surrounding yourself with positive reinforcement, and eventually, you’ll glide through the process. You’re encouraged to seek professional guidance as the process may get difficult.

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