Finding Hope in Other People’s Stories of Recovery

Most people understand the dangers of hanging with a bad crowd. In fact, studies of individuals who relapse after detox shows that peer pressure triggers 24 percent of newly sober adults and 66 percent of adolescents who relapse, reveals U.S. National Library of Medicine research. It is easy to see how friends with whom you once partied might tempt you to rationalize using “one last time.” Peer pressure can be subtle, too. By questioning the time you spend investing in your recovery community or mocking your sober social events, negative influences can seed your thinking with doubt. Like termites eating away at an old house, the damage might not show immediately, lulling you into a false sense of safety while your sobriety is quietly undermined.

The opposite is also true. Just as bad company corrupts good sobriety, keeping company with folks stable in their recoveries tends to rub off. Following in the footsteps of a well-established path to success can help you learn and spare you further personal trials. Copy positive behaviors, and you will save valuable time and effort, shielding your sobriety. Benefits of social support are myriad. To learn about the value of one in particular — hearing stories about how other people have gotten sober — read on.

Community: The Backbone of Most Rehabs and Recoveries

Peer connection is so important that it stands at the center of the gold standard model for addiction treatment. According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, the “social detox” model harnesses the healing power of living in a supportive, non-hospital setting to treat addiction. The “social detox” approach incorporates a combination of the following components:

  • Counseling to identify emotional and mental issues behind the addiction
  • Ongoing therapy to boost coping skills and prevent relapse
  • Family therapy for affected loved ones
  • Attending a 12-Step support group such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy to correct faulty thinking and generate healthy emotions
  • Spiritual guidance

Community is also the key to avoiding relapse after rehab; when treatment ends, the process of building lasting sobriety begins. A study supported by the American Psychological Association shows that people with a variety of coping strategies stayed abstinent for longer periods of time. When they do relapse, their periods of using do not last as long. Although there are a number of ways you can build pillars under the foundation of your sobriety, finding a 12-Step support group is one of the strongest.

Benefits include the following:

  • Being honest breaks the isolation often caused by addiction
  • Talking about your struggles can help you to realize that you are not alone. Talking honestly can also offer hope to people who doubt that recovery is possible.
  • People who hear your story may be less inclined to try drugs or alcohol.
  • Hearing about how someone overcame addiction motivates others to make positive changes in their lives.

Once you find a support group you feel comfortable in, make yourself a regular. In recovery circles, the meeting you attend the most is called a “home group.” Many people find sponsors — a person with more sober time who serves as a mentor for your addiction recovery — from within their home groups. A free mentoring resource, sponsorship pairs newcomers with group members with more clean time. They partner together to work the 12 Steps to Recovery in a private, one-on-one relationship. A sponsor is not a therapist or a treatment expert. Rather, he or she is simply another addict who can shares recovery tools, lend a listening ear and facilitating connections to the larger recovery community.

Listening: Tuning In For Tips

Tuning advice out is a way addicts maintain addictive behavior, fueling their denial. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that learning to be a good listener is a primary recovery task. Like other character traits you work on in sobriety, the ability to hear what people are actually saying — not what you think they are saying — is a quality you can cultivate. Practicing mindfulness helps. When people speak, observe what is happening with curiosity and openness. Instead of making judgments in your head or thinking about what you’re going to say in response, pay attention to the nonverbal parts of communication, such as gesture, tone and facial expression. Lastly, try to find similarities in other people’s stories, not just the differences. By listening to what they share, you can learn from their mistakes, gain valuable information and deepen your capacity for connection.

Storytelling: Benefits and Payoffs

Telling your own story is important, too. One tool revealed in findings published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse that helps many individuals stay sober and avoid relapse is telling their stories of addiction and recovery. Telling your story can take the form of anything from speaking up in a meeting, talking with a therapist or making time for a lonely person who wants to spend time with you to discuss getting sober. Other creative ways to share your story are to start a blog, or call a rehab center, asking for opportunities to speak in front of new rehab enrollees. The payoff is immediate, as sharing your experience, strength and hope in recovery gives meaning to life and knits you into a recovery community that is positive and purposeful.

Recovery from Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with heroin abuse, you are not alone. Recovery counselors at our toll free 24-hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email