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Why is Social Support So Important for Addiction Recovery?

people meet at recovery support group

Many studies have found that social support is a key aspect of a successful recovery from addiction. Addiction is often alienating. People with substance use disorders often choose substance use over friends and family. Their behavior may become erratic and deceptive, further alienating them from loved ones. Instead, they may prefer to spend time with others who also have substance use issues. This is clearly not healthy and creating a more positive social network is one of the top priorities of recovery from the beginning. Here are some of the reasons social support is so important for addiction recovery.

Social support reduces stress.

Strong social support helps mitigate another major challenge for people in addiction recovery: stress. Stress and anxiety often lead to cravings. However, people with a lot of social support typically experience lower levels of stress. One reason is that people are naturally social and our response to socializing is much like our response to eating. For our ancestors, being socially isolated meant your life was in serious danger. However, having strong social ties relieves much of that anxiety. When you have people in your life you know you can rely on, you have more resources to handle problems, whether they’re emotional, physical, financial, or whatever else. Even if you never have to ask for help, you feel less anxious knowing that you’ll have backup if things go wrong.

Social support changes your expectations.

We tend to adopt the beliefs, attitudes, and expectations of the people we spend the most time around. In active addiction, you are likely to spend most of your time around people who validate your addictive behavior. In recovery, you can make social pressure work for you by spending time around people who support your recovery. Spending time with others in recovery, such as going to regular 12-step meetings reinforces abstinent behavior. You become reluctant to let your group down by relapsing. Social pressure isn’t always enough, but for many people, it’s a major factor. Adopting more positive beliefs in general makes you happier and more resilient.

Social support makes you happier.

Social support makes you happier for a number of reasons. As noted above, spending time around positive people can rub off on you, making you more positive too. Belonging to a group also makes you feel more accepted, especially when that group knows the worst things about you and still accepts you, as is often the case in group therapy or 12-step meetings. You also gain a sense of purpose. You care about the other people in your group and you want to help. This makes you look beyond your own problems so you can look out for others.

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.