We often hear that admitting one has a problem is the first step towards recovery from addiction… but this foundational step requires action and more action! A critical component of recovery is building a healthy, well-rounded sober support system, composed of different healthy folks that can guide us in the right direction. But what exactly is a sober support system, and how can someone both build AND use a sober support system to enhance their recovery?
A sober support system is a network of folks who will guide us on our path to recovery from substance use disorder (that’s the clinical term for “addiction”). Treatment centers and 12-step fellowships often encourage people to “Get a sponsor,” or someone who will guide us carefully through the 12-step process. And while a sponsor may be someone that we call when we’re struggling or battling obsessive thoughts (like thoughts of wanting to drink or use drugs), we want to set clear standards for a relationship. Some sponsors ask folks to call them daily, just to check in. Others expect their sponsees to meet them one-on-one once a week. This changes depending on the person, but the ultimate goal of a sponsor is to guide one through the 12-steps. If your sponsor goes to bed at 8pm, but you’re struggling with cravings at midnight, who do you call? Building a sober support system allows us to have a supportive network of people to lean on, versus just one person.
Our sober support system may include different people that we can lean on when struggling, often with differing lengths of time in recovery. For example, Johnny may have a few of his sober living housemates in his sober support system, and knows he can speak openly and honestly with them. But he’ll also want to add people who are more established in their recovery to his sober support system, as they’re able to provide valuable and different insight to a situation. Rather than simply sympathizing with a situation, they may be able to offer actionable steps that they applied to a similar circumstance.
We can also include professionals in the sober support system. A supportive therapist, an understanding medical professional, or a recovery coach can help us tap into evidence-based approaches to recovery.
Finally, let’s take a look at the people who love us. Sometimes our families can be crucial to a sober support system, especially if they’ve been desperately trying to connect us with help over the years. It’s also sometimes important to acknowledge where and when our families can be triggering, and remember that it may be harmful to them if we constantly depend on them to intervene whenever we’re battling thoughts of using, self-sabotage, etc. Let’s work with the rest of our network to identify when it’s appropriate to include our family, and when it’s time to lean on others in the sober support system.
If you or a loved one has questions about how to lay the groundwork for the path to recovery, feel free to contact Surfside Recovery Services/Surfside Structured Sober Living for guidance at 609-709-4205.