Not everyone has a group of people they can truly call a support system; but everyone has the option to create one. Those who are more vulnerable, such as those with mental health issues, especially those who suffer with addiction, are in need of a support system that can effectively meet their needs. The holidays are here and having support while trying to stay sober during this time is invaluable. How one creates their support system, who is involved, and when to call it quits with someone within the inner circle are all things to consider. Regardless, the benefits of a sober support system are numerous, especially with holiday parties, stress and pressure, and family time in action.
If you are struggling with staying sober over the holidays, make sure you have a positive group of people surrounding you in order to support you and your goals.
What is the role of a support system?
Having a solid support system during the addiction recovery process is imperative. The role of those whom you choose to be in this special circle is to physically, emotionally, and spiritually be there for you in your times of need. These individuals will have knowledge of or understand your addiction history and triggers, remain non-judgemental, best serve your needs, help you achieve your goals, and be there for you when you need someone the most.
When you choose someone to be that person, you should let them know that you value the relationship between the two of you and would like to be able to go to them in times of need. This might already be common knowledge between you and this person, and it is also good to tell them how much you appreciate their trustworthiness, support, and acceptance.
Who should and should not be in your support system?
When you are trying to stay sober, especially around a vulnerable time such as the holidays, you don’t want just anybody on your side. You want a group of individuals who value your entire person, no matter your ups and downs or relapses. You want people who will be whatever you need them to be at a specific place and during a specific time.
Aside from the common people, best friends and most supportive family members, some people or groups of people you may want to include are:
- Treatment team
- Mentor or coach
- An accountability partner
- Those going through the same thing
- A faith-based leader
You are not meant to go through your recovery process alone; being isolated and not accepting or asking for help may send you spiraling down when you really need to be lifted up. Take the initiative to identify key individuals that can support you best during the holiday season and going forward.
Some advice from the experts at MentalHealth.org:
Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, health care provider or other trusted individual, who:
- Gives good advice when you want and ask for it; assists you in taking action that will help
- Likes, respects, and trusts you and who you like, respect, and trust, too
- Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes
- Listens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times
- Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anything
- Lets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
- Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
- Has your best interest in mind
Now that you know the basics and what is recommended in terms of who to surround yourself when, learn about the benefits of having a support system when in recovery.
Who should NOT be in your support system?
You definitely don’t want…
- anyone who is going to trigger you to relapse;
- someone who is judgemental and not accepting of your choices, recovery, and goals;
- someone who has had a negative role in your past addiction;
- a person who can’t put in the time and effort to be there for you
Surrounding yourself with someone who won’t act responsibly and respectfully around you while you’re trying to remain sober is not a good idea for your success.
What are the benefits of having a support system when in recovery?
If you’ve read this article up until now, then it is obvious that having a support system can be beneficial to you and your recovery. What exactly are the positive advantages of having and utilizing a special circle of support?
- Having positive people in your life can’t be a bad thing, right? Positivity brings more positivity.
- “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too can become great.” Mark Twain
- Finding a positive peer group or support group with people who have “been there, done that” and can help you feel seen and heard. “People [in these groups can] offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery,” (gov).
- Having a support system can allow you to voice your struggles and frustrations to people who are (hopefully) non-judgemental, caring, and are legit there for you no matter what.
- These are people you can go to when you need a lifeline. Feeling an urge? Call or visit someone within your circle. Are the pressures of the holidays and trying to stay sober really getting to you? Gather your tribe together and discuss your coping strategies; hanging out with one of them may just be that strategy you need.
- Having someone who can participate alongside you during treatment team meetings and who fully understands your treatment goals is important to your recovery.
Is your support system scarce or not what you need it to be?
Use these tips from the American Psychological Association to help build and strengthen your support network:
- Reach out to family and friends. Simply saying hello or offering to help with a task can spark conversation.
- Use technology. Connect with people far away via email, text messaging or video calls.
- Connect with people who share your interests. Join a club, volunteer at a local organization or take a class to help meet people who share your likes and interests.
- Look for peer support groups. If you are facing a personal challenge, consider joining a peer support group to help take care of your mental health and connect with people who are facing something similar.
- Ask for help. Reach out to your local library, place of worship, or community center to learn more about local events you may want to attend or groups you may want to join.
Rock your recovery and stay sober over the holidays; but don’t do it all alone. Know that there are lots of people out there that care about you and want to support you during the difficult times. Choosing and using your support system is worth it!
Do you want more information on how you can be supported and stay sober? A recovery center you can be confident in is Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado. Go to their site to learn more.