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Life After Treatment: What Does a Healthy Support System Look Like?

Surely, those of you who have undergone addiction treatment know the importance of a good support system. In fact, anyone should! Whether you are a student, work a job, or take part in weekly recreational activities, you are constantly interacting with different people. Sure, some of us are extroverts while others are introverts, some people have more friends than others, and some enjoy small talk while others do not. Point is, that won’t stop the basic interactions you have with friends or family members. In everyday life, you focus on surrounding yourself with a group of people you value, so why wouldn’t you do the same in recovery?
The most important thing to consider about creating your support system after recovery is yourself. Don’t worry, you aren’t being selfish- you’re simply caring for your own health! Ask yourself these questions: Does this person support my journey? Do they want to see me change and grow? Do they positively influence my life? In all honesty, the list could go on, getting more and more specific. In terms of addiction and recovery, one size does not fit all. That being said, it is important that you prioritize your needs and values in a person after rehabilitative treatment.
The second most important factor to consider is communication. Is this person a good listener? Do I feel comfortable telling them about my struggles? If the answer to both these questions is yes, chances are you’ve hit the jackpot. Leaving a treatment facility marks the first time that someone will be sober from a long bout of substance- it’s a scary step! That being said, it is crucial that you find someone who is open to listening and who won’t judge you.
More often than not, Substance Use Disorders have severe impacts on the mind, body, and spirit. Despite previous rehabilitative practices, there isn’t one specific way to treat each addiction. The ‘tough-love’ approach is a common tactic used to deal with those who suffer from addiction, but does it promote an effective recovery? While setting boundaries is important, disciplinary tactics aren’t always the best method.
Why is tough love more harmful than helpful? While it should work in the long-run, a strict approach may push someone further into their substance use. For those who do not suffer from an addiction, it can be difficult to understand the actions and thoughts of those who do. The key to providing an effective recovery is support. You do not need to understand, you simply need to be open to talking and listening.
Supporting someone with their recovery can be a challenging task because there isn’t one best approach to heal their mind and body. If you’re supporting someone who is currently dealing with an addiction or recovering from a substance disorder, here are some tips that you can use to ensure a healthy approach to the situation:
1. Practice positive encouragement. The time following treatment is going to be difficult on an individual. Make sure to encourage the recoveree in their attempt to lead a sober life.
2. Forgiveness and acceptance. It is difficult to identify the exact cause for every person’s substance use. It could be attributed to bullying, a tough home life, or many other factors. Whatever the case, it is important to not judge an individual based on their addiction- it does not define who they are. Rather, try to accept their situation and help them through it- how else are they going to improve?
3. Listen. Sometimes, all a person needs is someone to listen. The worst thing a recovering addict can do is bottle up their emotions as this could lead to a relapse. By being open to hearing about their struggles, they will feel more comfortable in their surroundings and their ability to evolve as a person.
4. Set boundaries and limits. Despite the previous points, it is equally important to set boundaries. This works in two ways: the first is your own mental health. If you are feeling uncomfortable or extremely overwhelmed with the situation, take a step back and give a reason to support your feelings. The second reason will benefit the recoveree; having deep chats can sometimes cause past memories and feelings to come up and may cause feelings of doubt. Ultimately, this could lead to a relapse. If the chat becomes very deep, try to veer the conversation in a more positive direction.
By following these tips, you are more likely to achieve a more successful recovery and maintain the results for life.

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