The Importance of Community Post Treatment
By Wesley Gallagher
Whatever your situation, it’s important to have friends who can support you on your journey toward wellness.
Anyone living in recovery from mental health or addiction issues knows the importance of community and having a support system surrounding you. Some people in recovery have family and friends, who may have encouraged them to get well in the first place, and they are ready and willing to help whenever needed. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case for everyone.
If you find yourself alone in your recovery efforts, know that this is not as uncommon as you might think. Many people still don’t understand the nature of mental health and addiction and therefore don’t understand why you might need to be in recovery. If you’re coming out of a lifestyle of substance abuse, your loved ones may have been among those in your life who used with you. And sometimes, relationships are strained from events that happened before you started on the road to healing.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to have friends who can support you on your journey toward wellness. If they’re not in your life already, there are plenty of ways to find people who will be there for you when you need them.
The Importance of Community in Recovery
Recovery, especially the beginning of it, is an important and vulnerable time for someone who is trying to get well. And while it’s ultimately up to you to be successful in your recovery efforts, it is by no means a journey you should set out to do on your own.
There’s a reason why people in recovery go away to treatment programs: It gives them concentrated time to get well, but it also provides a group of people to surround and support them as they start their new life. In treatment, counselors, doctors, nurses, and other staff members are there to help keep you on the right track, and the other patients provide a built-in group of individuals who understand what you’re going through.
The importance of community is perhaps even greater after treatment when you’re sent back out into the real world. Right after treatment is one of the most vulnerable times because it can be hard not to return to your old ways. You need people surrounding you who can encourage you in your wellness journey, friends you can turn to in times of weakness. In fact, according to an article published by the National Institute of Health, research shows that social support has a protective effect against relapse for those who have recently been discharged from drug rehab. In effect, having recovery support is vital.
If you have supportive family members and friends, be sure to lean on them. Spend time with them doing things that make you happy, and call them when you’re feeling sad. Make sure you have someone to talk to when you hit bumps in the road because they will happen, and you shouldn’t have to go it alone.
How to Find a Community That Supports You
You are in charge of your recovery, which means you are capable of finding or creating your own support system when your family doesn’t support you.
If you don’t have family and friends who support you, don’t despair. You are in charge of your recovery, which means you are capable of finding or creating your own support system when your family doesn’t support you. You need people in your life who are on board with your treatment goals and can help you stay on track, even if you have to go out and find them.
Fortunately, there are many ways to find both formal and informal recovery support. Peer support groups are a great way to build community because you’re surrounded by people whose experience is similar to your own. Friendships often happen quickly and easily in these groups, and they can be a great place to find people who will hold you accountable. Groups like this include the following:
- Residential and sober living communities
- 12-Step programs for addiction, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Support groups for mental health disorders
- Online support groups
You may prefer finding community elsewhere, such as in a spiritual group like a church or synagogue. Or if you enjoy sports or yoga, you might find community by joining a team or a class. The important part is to put yourself out there and be honest with the people you meet so you can build strong relationships.
If you have unresolved relational trauma from past or present relationships, the Survivors II workshop that The Meadows offers for alums is a great place to find community and continued healing. Whether it brings about reconciliation between you and your loved ones, or simply brings you to a better place about the loss of old relationships and gives you skills for new ones, it is a wonderful opportunity to grow alongside others. You may even make some new friends while you’re there.