Creating Your Support Network in Recovery

making support network

Everyone needs friends and people who support their sobriety. When you first get sober, you’ll meet many people with the same goals as yours. However, hanging out with only newly sober people isn’t necessarily healthy. To stay sober, you need to have more than just a few friends in your network. You also need people who have experience staying sober longer-term and a sponsor to help you work the steps. But how do you go about building your network?

Getting Started Building a Support Network

When you first get sober, you may feel intimidated talking to people with more time sober than you. However, it’s essential to build a network in recovery that is as robust as possible.

When you first get sober, you will probably go to detox, where you will be among your peers. You may want to exchange contact information with them – this is fine, but don’t make them the first person you contact when you walk out the door.

Instead, focus on the speakers at the meeting, who tend to have more time sober. If something one of them says speaks to you, ask them for their contact information at the meeting.

Many people who go to detox don’t continue to treatment. Relapse is a part of many peoples’ stories; this is why you shouldn’t reach out to somebody with fragile sobriety if you feel like you’re in a bad spot.

If you have outside speakers come to a 12-step meeting in treatment, this is an excellent place to network. Try to get contact information from people who have been sober for a year or more.

Making Friends in Recovery

Most people in recovery like to surround themselves with others who have the same values and goals. Here are some ways to make new friends in recovery:

  • Go to a 12-step meeting early and leave late. Help set up chairs or clean up after the meeting. Talk to people and learn their names.
  • Get phone numbers of speakers and other people whose recovery is attractive to you.
  • Consider going to 90 meetings in 90 days when you first leave treatment. This will help you truly begin to get to know people.
  • Go out after the meeting with others. When meetings are early in the evening, some groups will go out to dinner afterward. Make it a point to spend some time socializing with the group.
  • Go to events like picnics or conventions. You’ll meet people from all walks of life.
  • Consider sober living. Sober living is often a perfect way to stay grounded in recovery while transitioning to the real world. They usually provide structure as well as social outings, often resulting in a lifelong friendship.
  • Find and use a 12-step sponsor. Your sponsor can also introduce you to others in recovery. They can help you work the steps and build a support network.

Learn More About Sober Living

Sober living is a great way to start building your new life in recovery while in the presence of others who are doing the same! Learn more about our programs by calling 760-216-2077.

 

 

If you are new to recovery or even have been around the block a few times, you may have questions about the twelve steps and how to fit meetings into your recovery best. After all, sitting in a room and sharing your innermost feelings can be pretty intimidating. If you’re introverted or shy, you may worry that you won’t be able to get as much out of meetings. However, people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and personality types have gotten clean and sober using the twelves steps. So how can you get the most out of 12-step meetings, no matter what?

Start By Listening at 12-Step Meetings

All meetings are based on the 12 Steps, which are read to the group at the beginning of each meeting. Most 12-step meetings will have “old-timers” who share their experiences every week. “Shut up and listen” may be one of the catchphrases you hear them say. You may think this is rude – but it’s a saying for a reason. It’s not just about respecting the group dynamics, although that is undoubtedly an essential lesson for newcomers.

Listening is an integral part of recovery, especially because you’re learning how to stay sober by following the suggestions of people who have been there before. After all, you’re trying to stay sober a day at a time, and you’ll learn how to do this by listening to people who have been sober for more months or years than you.

Getting Used to 12 Step Meeting Formats

Some groups will have a speaker, while others will focus on readings from books like the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (also sometimes referred to as the “Bible of AA.” In many cases, newcomers (or newly sober people) are encouraged to listen only, at least for their first few weeks sober so that they can hear from people with more experience in recovery.

Some meetings are distinguished as “newcomer meetings” and are often more open to having newly sober people share. You may talk about the first three steps or general topics such as being open-minded or willing.

If you have questions about the meeting format, try to observe others when you first attend. It’s okay to raise your hand and share or ask a question of the group. Just make sure to be respectful and genuinely listen when others speak. You can gain a lot just by listening. Many people who relapse humble themselves and spend time listening when they’ve returned to their recovery program.

After the Meeting

People usually congregate and socialize after 12-step meetings. This is also an excellent time to get names or phone numbers from people, especially if you need a sponsor. There is also a lot of good, free literature available to pick up if you need help with particular issues.

12-step meetings are both self-help groups and a community. If you’re struggling with something, make sure to talk to the group or with individuals after the meeting.

Considering Sober Living?

Many people in recovery find that they are inspired to do more when surrounded by like-minded people. Getting back to basics, building community, and learning more about yourself in a structured environment are all parts of sober living. Are you interested in learning more? Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.

When you're new to recovery, you're told to get a sponsor and check in with them. Usually, you're given simple suggestions by your sponsor, such as attending a meeting every day or learning more about the first step. Choosing a new sponsor is easy when you're brand new to recovery – after all, anyone who's been sober a year or so has a lot of sobriety experience to share.

However, as time goes on, for whatever reason, you may end up switching sponsors. This can happen for various reasons, but hopefully, you're doing it for a cause that will help you change and grow.

When to NOT Switch Sponsors

If you're new to recovery, you may be skeptical of your first sponsor. After all, who are they to tell you what to think about or do?

A sponsor is a person who has knowledge of the 12 steps and staying sober in general. Typically, they will have a year or more of consistent sobriety. They will have also gone through some struggles and stayed sober. They usually have worked at least four or five of the 12 steps. (It's best if they've done all 12 – they'll have a lot of experience!)

For a newly sober person, your sponsor's sober experiences are a testament to the importance of the 12 steps. Your sponsor knows how to stay sober, but you don't quite know how to do it yourself. Listening to them will help you learn the basics.

Switching sponsors because you don't like their suggestions won't help you stay sober. In sobriety, you'll have to do some things that you don't like. Most people will give you step work and other tasks that you might find unpleasant and help you grow. So stick it out. You're worth it! Don't sabotage yourself because you're afraid of the challenges they give you. You're resilient.

Switching Sponsors

There are many legitimate reasons you may want to switch sponsors.

You may feel like he or she is just a wrong fit, or maybe they are moving away from the area and won't be able to see you regularly. Sometimes you'll find that you don't feel that your sponsor has enough time for you.

You may even want to switch sponsors because you've found somebody you relate to. If you are gay, you'll feel more comfortable with another person who is LGBTQ. Or, you might simply relate to another person's story and feel like you want to learn to live like them! There are no requirements for choosing a sponsor, only suggestions! Sticking with your gender and somebody who has at least a year sober will help you avoid drama and focus on your recovery.

You don't have to tell your sponsor that you're looking for a new one right away. You may be worried that you'll hurt their feelings. Even if that were to happen, in recovery, you have to put your own needs first.

You can also always ask somebody to be your "temporary sponsor" until you find a permanent one. This way, you'll have a new friend that you can also check in with until you decide.

Getting Help for Addiction

In sober housing, you can be among your peers and learn to live life on its own terms. You’ll also develop meaningful friendships, learn to take responsibility, and learn to have fun in sobriety. Give us a call to learn if our programs are right for you. Reach out at 760-216-2077.

12-Step books are an essential part of recovery, whether you’re in AA or another group. All 12-step books are based on the guidelines that made AA a success in the first place. There are 12 steps to help an alcoholic stay sober, and 12 traditions that help groups manage themselves honestly and spiritually.

For most newcomers, guidance on the steps is the most critical part of the literature. The personal stories in the book also show people how their experiences and emotions are not-so-unique. Addiction to anything can cause a spiral, and many people are left feeling hopeless and trapped by it. Yet in books based on the 12-steps, you can read the experiences of others. Their stories illustrate how they managed to find a way out of their misery and on the path to recovery and serenity.

The Big Book of AA

The first 12-step literature published was written by Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The “Big Book” is often referred to as the “AA Bible”, although it is not a moralizing work. The book itself is meant to inspire and instruct how to get sober. It’s not meant to be an explanation of “fixing yourself” or achieving perfect recovery. Instead, it shows what other people did to get and stay sober, and how it helped them in their recovery journey.

In the foreword to the first edition of the Big Book, according to the AA Grapevine Newsletter, Bill W. stated that the main purpose of the book was to "show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered." Using that term, “recovered,” however, didn’t mean that people could drink again successfully once they’d been sober and completed the 12 steps. Instead, it meant that they had recovered an ability to live their own lives and share their own stories with newcomers. Once a person has reclaimed their life, they are duty-bound to continue working on themselves and also help others who are lost find their way.

While the first edition of the Big Book had the collective experience of around 100 people who got sober through the 12 Steps, it has grown over the years. The Big Book can give you inspiration and guidance throughout your 12-step journey. Whether you’re learning the steps or reading the stories, there is plenty of education about the disease of addiction between the covers.

The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous has a similar structure, focusing instead on addiction to any kind of drug or substance. Every group based on the 12-steps focuses on the same principles: If you’re addicted, and want to find your way out of a hopeless spiral, you must admit you are powerless and take the 12 steps to begin a new way of life.

Using Books in Your Recovery Journey

Books are an important tool for people in recovery. They help remind you where you’ve been and show the way to get there. You may have a sponsor who assigns you passages to read during certain times in your life, or you may need the guidance of the book when you are working your steps. You can also explore 12-step literature on your own, especially when you are feeling down.

AA and NA also have pamphlets that talk about specific situations you may face, such as an upcoming surgery where you might take narcotics, or if you are young and feel like you may not belong. You can find these booklets at meetings or online.

Many people also like to find daily meditation books that are recovery-focused to start their day. If you meditate, consider starting your day with a reading and reflecting on its central point. Hazeldon is a great publisher to check out.

If you’re not into books, consider exploring or subscribing to a daily blog on 12-step topics. Reading somebody else’s struggles and experiences can help you get through your own.

There are also 12-step meetings that focus mainly on the literature – such as a step every week or a pamphlet every week. Consider adding one of these to your weekly schedule.

Sober Living and Recovery Life

A lot of people find that a sober living household helps them stay focused on their recovery. Being around others in recovery and talking about your struggles, experience, and strength can help you forge bonds that last for life. If you’re looking for a landing place after treatment, consider joining a sober home. Contact us at 760-216-2077 to learn more.

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