Managing Your Social Support Systems
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Managing Your Social Support Systems

Managing Your Social Support Systems

Long-term substance use can lead to isolation and conflicts with friends and family. When this happens due to substance use, it creates destructive behaviors and causes you to feel disconnected from positive change supporters. Distancing yourself from friends and family can make the early stages of recovery very hard to tolerate. However, rebuilding and reconnecting within healthy support networks helps to break destructive behavioral patterns and decrease the risk of relapse.

The road to recovery takes the desire to get better, motivate, and push past your fears. Part of this process takes surrounding yourself with supportive friends, family, and peers. The best way to achieve your recovery goals takes involving as many people as possible. However, learning how to manage yourself and others while rebuilding relationships takes work, but it will ultimately help you reach your desired goals.

Know Your Needs

Substance use and its effects vary based on the individual; this includes the choices you make, the behaviors you display, and how you feel about yourself and others around you. Knowing your needs is a great way to help give you direction and structure, and it also helps others understand what and how they can help in the relationship. For example, you might not be ready to attend social gatherings where substances are present. Perhaps individual family members are triggering for you. Knowing before you put yourself in these situations helps prevent you from experiencing negative thoughts and behaviors. When you convey this to your family, they can further strengthen your resilience to being in such situations.

It might not be easy, but having conversations about what you are going through and what you need to keep moving forward helps your friends and family understand what you are experiencing. It is essential for friends and family that do not use substances to find out as much as possible about the disease of addiction. START UP RECOVERY  is available 24/7 and is an excellent resource for helping family and friends better understand addiction as a disease. When your friends and family understand, it will add some credence to what you are saying and asking.

How Can They Help?

Mobilizing your support to work in harmony to meet your needs can sometimes be tricky. Family and friends likely don't share the same perspectives or experiences as peers from support meetings who have also struggled with addiction. It is crucial that in addition to letting all parties know your needs, making an effort to let them know how they can help will also help keep your support system functioning in harmony. That is, if you want or need something from someone, it is best to ask for it specifically, or you might not be likely to get what you want. Support is no different. Choosing to be direct will also encourage you to think through what would be helpful before you have these conversations. Remember, you can always change your request later.

Some examples of asking for what you want include informing a family member or friend that the best thing they can do is listen or asking a peer from a support group to hold you accountable and reach out to keep you interacting with others weekly. When people support you, they are more than happy to help you in any way they can. Giving them direction makes it all the better — you won't feel like you are being misunderstood or neglected.

Maintain Patience

Recovery is a lifelong process, so you will need to have patience. You're not only rebuilding yourself and your life from the inside out; you are rebuilding the relationships you have with others, and this, too, takes time and effort. You might feel awkward when making changes in your behavior, especially if it is not typical of how you once behaved when using drugs or alcohol. It can also create an awkward environment if you try to interact with people who have distanced themselves from you.

Being patient when gaining the trust of yourself and others is the key. Friends and family might not yet have the supportive skills needed to help you exactly how you want; however, give them some time, guidance, and forgiveness, and they will eventually get it right. Remember, they are learning things about you and themselves, too, and everybody moves at a different pace, and if they are worth having in your life, then remember to give them some time.

Stay Connected With Others

You are the glue that holds your social network together; therefore, you intertwine with others on the road to recovery, you are likely a lifeline for another's network. The intertwining of healthy networks is the very essence of how networks should operate — this ensures that if someone falls out of step, there is someone there to get them back on track. You will have bad days where you want to become distant. However, the more you push yourself to stay connected, the more you benefit from support.

Staying connected does not mean you have to have long conversations daily, especially after a bad day. However, continuing to reach out through a text or email to signal you are okay and that you might need time to think reminds you that you're not alone and allows others to know how you feel. What you never want to do is disappear or fail to respond. Isolation will only make you feel worse and subscribe to negative thoughts and behaviors.

At START UP RECOVERY, one of our primary efforts is to help surround you with a network of people that positively impact you, that propel and motivate each other to keep growing into the person and the success they see for themselves. We help you find the confidence within yourself to motivate yourself to get to the next level. We also understand that this can be a challenging and intimidating process, which is why working with START UP will help you find balance within yourself and your support system. You will establish your personal and professional needs and then design your network to fulfill your needs simultaneously. Recovery and success are patient processes that take time to develop. At START UP RECOVERY, we provide a safe, comfortable and inspiring environment to do so. Remember, your health and recovery always come first. To learn more, reach out to us today by calling 310-773-3809.

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