September is National Recovery Month, initiated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, applauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible”. -SAMSHA
Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
During September, AKUA Mind and Body will be promoting a series of written content that will highlight the perils of recovery to spread awareness about the successes, lessons, and hardships that come with recovery. This series will include the following:
- Stages of Recovery
- Common Roadblocks in Recovery
- Therapist’s corner: Questions About Addiction Recovery
- Things Not to Say to A Loved One In Recovery
- The Importance of Connection in Recovery
The path to recovery often involves rebuilding healthy relationships that were dissolved by the earlier addiction-related behavior, with a supportive community. But how do we find a supportive community while in recovery?
Fortunately, we have at our disposal a wide range of ways to forge and foster authentic connection. Those with addictions who are working toward recovery need to be able to engage with others to spark a connection that improves a sense of self-esteem and better manage the urge to turn to substances as a toxic substitute.
Jumping out of comfort zones
Meeting new friends and creating a community takes vulnerability and patience. It is important to explain to your clients that the sense of “belonging” does not happen overnight. It requires showing up, taking the mask off, and practicing patience.
Showing up: This requires attending social events, talking to strangers, becoming involved with school hobbies or clubs. Sitting at home or in a bookstore alone is not going to elicit a community. One must show up and be actively present.
Taking the mask off: Vulnerability can be tough, but it is necessary to build genuine relationships. Sharing about life events, interests, personal stories, and being honest with oneself and others can allow for deeper connections to form.
Practicing patience: Meeting friends can often take longer than expected. It takes time to be willing to open up and venture out to new places. It also takes time to meet others with similar interests and values. It can take months and sometimes even a year to become integrated into a new community.
Discovering new places and people
So where do people meet new friends? A good rule of thumb is integrating oneself into communities with like-minded people. It is natural to want to make friends who share the same interests, hobbies, and beliefs. Do you have any hobbies? Are you religious? Become involved in community groups such as intramural sports, book clubs, church groups, ski clubs, or other outdoor groups. Individuals are attracted to others who are happy and who share the same passions in life. Encouraging someone to join a music club to make friends when they do not dance or play music will most likely not be a good fit. You must discover your passions and interests before you can expect to meet others who share similar mindsets.
The Internet: The Internet is an excellent source of information and can be a great way to meet friends. There are many chances to become involved in activity and community groups through social media. From book clubs and hiking clubs to church groups and cooking groups, social media can be a great way to connect with others in the local community. The first meet and greet is always the most challenging, but once introductions are made, and barriers are broken, it can be much easier to integrate into these communities.
Neighbors: Saying hello and chatting with the neighbors is a great way to meet new people and become connected. It may take a few weeks or months before establishing friendships with neighbors, but small talk eventually turns into more in-depth conversations, allowing individuals to form relationships.
Hobbies: Become involved in a hobby either on campus or in the community.
Volunteer: Acts of service within the community cannot only be a great way to meet friends, but it can also be a great way to give back and gain purpose in return.
AKUA Mind and Body treatment
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA makes your recovery a priority. AKUA Mind and Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.
AKUA Mind and Body offers detoxification, intensive treatment programs, and outpatient treatment programs. AKUA Mind and Body uses a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment to help individuals who have been affected by substance use and mental health disorders to recognize their underlying triggers and develop healthy coping skills. Regardless of where you are in your recovery process, AKUA Mind and Body can help.