Establishing a Sober Support Network

Establishing a Sober Support Network

Cultivating Connections for a Successful and Lasting Recovery

Living with an addiction is a lonely and isolating experience. When I was struggling with substance abuse, I lost contact with a lot of friends and family and even ruined some relationships by choosing drugs over people who cared for me.

Rehab showed me the importance of accepting help and building a sober support system to can catch me when I fall. But, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same level of support once I was on my own.

But, I did. And you can too if you surround yourself with the right people – and that starts with effective aftercare services from a rehab like Icarus Behavioral Health.

Icarus recognizes that recovery doesn’t end when you leave rehab. They’ll help you overcome your addiction and prepare you for your sober journey with ongoing care like they did for me.

Keep reading to learn more about my experience of building a sober support network and how the programs from Icarus helped me to get a solid start!

What Is a Sober Support Network?

Sober Support Network

If you’re like me, your addiction meant hiding the truth, lying about its severity to yourself and others, and feeling guilt and embarrassment that kept you away from the people who wanted to help. This isolation then continues the drug abuse cycle as a coping mechanism that makes each cycle worse, causing relationships to fail and loneliness to grow. But relationships are what helps you break the cycle.

One of the most important elements of recovery is your sober support network. It’s the group of people that you choose to walk beside you on the path to recovery. As part of building and maintaining your support system, you’ll build new relationships with positive influences and supporters, repair damage from loved ones that you hurt in your addiction, and remove triggering relationships from your life so you can focus on your sobriety.

Ultimately, your sober support network will be your anchor when the seas get choppy as you navigate your new sober life.

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The Importance of Building a Support Network

Recovery isn’t a one-person job. Fighting against urges and temptation is much easier when you have help. Trust me, there will be bad days with ups and downs that can cause you to seriously question your sobriety. You’ll be tempted to slip back into old habits when the going gets tough, especially early in the recovery process, as your life begins to normalize after leaving rehab.

But, when you’re at your weakest and most vulnerable, you can lean on your support network. If something upsetting or stressful happens, you can call or text a supporter instead of your old dealer. When the temptations get too strong, your support network can help remind you why you’re staying sober and get you back on track.

A sober support network means that support is only a call or text away, which is invaluable for your mental health when you’re intimidated by the idea of living the rest of your life without drugs. With a strong sober support network, you don’t have to be alone in your struggle.

Whether it’s family who loves you or sober friends who are doing it themselves, the accountability that comes with having people behind your sobriety can be the strength you need to fight back.

The Value of Giving Back to Your Support Network

In many cases, a strong sober support network with others who are in recovery is a two-way street. They’re there to help you and give you the support and motivation you need, but you can also be the positive force in their lives that helps them remain focused and stay sober.

When you’ve built relationships with people who are in a similar spot, you build a kind of mutual agreement that you’ll do everything you can to help the other person stay sober. You want to see them succeed as much as they want to see you succeed, which adds another layer of accountability to your sobriety. If you relapse, it also hurts them, which can help motivate you to refuse temptation more easily.

Being a part of a strong support network can also make you feel like your sobriety has more value. When you’re doing well, you can give back to your support group by being there for them when they need you, giving your recovery a greater purpose.

Who Can Be In a Sober Support Network?

Family Members on Sober Support System

How you build your sober support networks is entirely up to you, as long as they help you meet your recovery goals and help build on your recovery tools and skills. The only requirement for adding someone to your network is that they want to see you live a long, happy, and sober life.

While you don’t have to have a sober support network written down explicitly, such a network should be, if not written down, an easy resource to bring to mind immediately during times of trouble

Supporters come in all shapes and sizes and can come from anywhere. They don’t have to be in recovery themselves or be a member of your family. Your sober support network should be made up of those who make you feel supported, regardless of whether you’ve known them for a week or your whole life.

Some people you can consider include:

  • Family Members: Your family are usually the first people you add to your sober support system. You’ve known them a long time and they’ve seen you at your best and your worst. When you need them most, family is likely to answer the call, making their support invaluable. However, don’t be afraid to exclude family members who are negative influences.
  • Support Group Members: Support groups are one of the best places to build your strong support system. Most who attend recovery meetings are in the same spot or have been in the same spot as you, so it’s easy to relate to each other’s struggles. Support group meetings also provides you with many different perspectives and experiences that can help you feel less alone or self-conscious about your history of substance abuse. You may learn a new coping strategy or simply feel motivated by senior members who have successfully turned their lives around for many years.
  • Old Friends: Old friends are another long-term relationship that you can add to your sober support network. Like your family, they’ve known you for a long time. However, you can also be more active with them than with family, especially if you don’t have siblings or children.
  • Religious Leaders: For some, addiction and recovery are closely tied to religious or spiritual beliefs. Maintaining sobriety is a mental battle, so if you’re able to find some answers or purpose from talking to a respected spiritual or religious figure in your life, it can help you find motivation.
  • Healthcare Professionals: While they support you less personally than others, your medical team can definitely be considered a part of your sober support network. Therapists, psychiatrists, and other healthcare professionals help give you the tools to cope with recovery and address any conditions that may be contributing to your urges, like anxiety or depression.

There are also plenty of others who you can add to your sober support network, so if they help you stay sober, they’re part of your network.

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Who Shouldn’t Be In Your Support Network?

The people you don’t allow to have relationships with you can be just as important as the supporters you have. Temptation is going to be a factor every day, especially as you find a footing in recovery, so anyone who contributes to this urge shouldn’t be allowed close enough to damage your support network.

Past drug dealers, people you used to do drugs with, and people with active addictions can harm your mental health, so avoiding relationships with them, especially in early recovery, is a wise decision.

Generally, it’s also a good idea to avoid starting new relationships when you’re freshly sober. While companionship is important, there’s a lot that you’ll need to figure out and work on, so distractions from creating a solid basis for your sobriety should be avoided for as much as a year.

Where Can I Find Sober Supporters? 5 Possibilities I Found

Attending Support Group Meetings

As you’re aware, sobriety support is crucial to your recovery. But, it’s hard to know how to find the rock-solid supporters that will help you stay sober.

Here are a few different places where I built up my sober support network to help you get started.

1) Alumni from Your Rehab

Many rehabs have alumni programs for clients who have completed a treatment program and are in recovery. These are people who have had success and want to help, so they attend recovery meetings at the rehab. They’re a great starting point if you’re newly sober and aren’t ready to go out and find others in recovery publicly.

Contact your rehab to see if there is an alumni program for you to join.

2) 12-Step and Other Programs

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are well-known as meeting places for people in recovery. Attending these support group meetings (and others like SMART) can help you to learn more about the people who are a part of it through their anecdotes or advice, which helps you find people you resonate with.

3) Community Activities

Your support group doesn’t need to just include others in recovery and family members. You can also make friends from other communities and activities who end up being incredibly supportive of your lifestyle. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who are willing to help and going to the gym regularly can help you find people who motivate you to get your body stronger along with your mind.

4) Online Communities

Accessibility is a major element of an effective sober support network. There are only so many local support groups and events that you can participate in to meet others in person. Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to connect with others from anywhere in the world.

You can join community forums for recovery groups and talk to others directly or attend a virtual group therapy session at any time, regardless of where you are. If you build meaningful connections with someone you meet in an online group setting, you can begin a personal relationship with them as well.

5) Religious Communities

Spirituality can be a big part of the addiction recovery journey. Studies have shown that faith can be an indicator of success when overcoming substance abuse, so joining a place of worship for your spirituality or meeting others who are on their own path can be a great way to find supporters.

How to Build a Successful Sober Support Network

Communicate with Your Support Network

Starting your own support network can be intimidating, but it’s an essential element of recovering successfully.

Below, I have put together a list of some important things to keep in mind and tips for building a network that raises you up when you need it most.

Communicate Your Needs with Your Support Network

Your sober support network can only help you if they know what you need. You may want them to help you be active or give you practical advice. Or, you may just want someone you can vent to when you’re overwhelmed.

Be sure to communicate what you need from each member, as long as they’re comfortable with it, so you can have the emotional support needed for successful and healthy sobriety.

Remove Yourself from Triggering Relationships

Positive experiences and relationships can help make your sobriety easier to maintain, but toxic relationships can be enough to derail things entirely. If you have a relationship that has contributed to your addiction, it’s better to end it than risk a relapse.

Show Humility and Patience

When I was struggling with addiction, I treated people poorly. Thankfully, many of them gave me another chance after I got help, but they didn’t have to.

If you’re repairing your past relationships during sobriety, understand that it takes time to heal the wounds that your addiction can cause. Be thankful for their support and be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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Establish Boundaries to Protect Your Sobriety

Sobriety can be fickle, and addiction can be devious. If you have a strong addiction to something, the sight of it may cause you to falter in your recovery. If you have an alcohol addiction, it could be important to set a boundary with your support group and let them know that you can’t be around people drinking.

Alternatively, you may ask them not to bring up your addiction in conversation.

Celebrate Milestones and Practice Gratitude

Recovering from an addiction and fighting for sobriety is a lifelong challenge that can seem like it’s never going to end. But you’re in a much better place now than you were while addicted, and that’s something to celebrate.

Appreciate the new lease on life you have and celebrate your milestones – you’ve earned it.

Give Support As Much As Receiving It

Being a supporter can be just as fulfilling as being supported. Both addiction and recovery can be lonely experiences, so communicating with others who need help and being a resource for them can give you more motivation to stay sober and a greater sense of purpose.

Set Yourself Up for Success with Services from Icarus

Addiction Treatment Services

Choosing the right rehab plays a major role in how effective your treatment is and how well-equipped you are to navigate life after rehab. In addition to teaching you the skills you need to cope with temptation, your addiction treatment center should start you off on the right foot with aftercare services.

After graduating from Icarus Behavioral Health’s substance abuse program, I was nervous about taking on sobriety alone. Fortunately, the coping strategies I learned, the ongoing care resources they provided, and their Alumni program got me through the first few weeks while I began to establish my sober support system.

Icarus can help you, too. Whether you suffer from drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or have a dual diagnosis, their holistic rehab programs can help you survive your addiction and thrive once you’ve graduated.

Get in touch with one of their team today to learn more about their programs, treatments, and aftercare resources. It’s a call that changed my life, and I think it can be for you or someone you care about as well!



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