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Creating a Strong Network of Support

One of the most important things you can do for yourself in recovery is to wrap yourself with support. Interestingly, it’s not always what new recovering addicts think of first. Often, there first thought is to focus on getting sober. Yet, as you can imagine, it’s hard to get sober alone. Nonetheless, many people who have experienced trauma, addiction, or abuse in their families of origin feel they need to carry their burdens on their own. However, especially in recovery, the complete opposite is true. You do not have to carry the burden of getting sober alone. You can invite family, friends and especially mental health professionals to join you on your journey towards sobriety.

One way to gather a community around you right away is by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. The AA community is a group of people, all working towards getting sober or staying that way. The stories that are shared, challenges that have been overcome, strategies that are used to stay sober, and camaraderie can be a great support. Of course, you can attend an AA meeting and develop relationships within the community. This is a way of having immediate access to a community of support. However, you may also want to create a circle of support that includes family, friends, and professionals, in addition to an AA group.

For instance, you might want to rely upon the expertise of a therapist each week, especially one that specializes in drug addiction treatment. This is incredibly rich source of support, one that can provide you with individualized service. In an AA meeting, although you’ll hear the stories of others and have the companionship of those who are walking the same journey of sobriety you won’t get the expertise of a therapist giving you one-on-one attention.

However, one thing that the AA community can give you is a sponsor. When a new recovering addict begins to attend meetings regularly, he or she is asked to find a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can serve as a mentor and who can guide a sponsee through the 12 Steps. Having mentors has proven to greatly facilitate reaching goals in all areas of life – career, health, school, spirituality, relationships, including sobriety.

Yet, it’s important to know that a sponsor is not a therapist. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, has been specifically trained to facilitate healing. However, a sponsor does not have such training. Although a sponsor can provide significant support by having years of sobriety under his or her belt, they won’t have the psychological training or experience of a therapist.

In addition to a therapist, you might need to work with a psychiatrist, if you’re taking psychotropic medication. You might also work with a drug counselor, if you want to discuss other life areas with your therapist and keep the topic of your addiction and sobriety for your counselor. Having both a therapist and a drug counselor can provide a thorough amount of support throughout your recovery.

Finally, it’s important to include the presence of friends and family in your circle of support. Although some of these relationships might have been damaged or strained during the addiction, try to have at least one or two people from your personal life that can support you. It’s important that they know what you’re going through as you progress through your recovery.

It’s essential to have people around you as you grow and heal on your journey. 

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.