Let’s say you’re at a party. You’ve gone there with your boyfriend or girlfriend and they’re off talking to other people. So, essentially you feel like you’re alone. You feel uncomfortable with having to make your way through a crowd of people you don’t know. You also feel uncomfortable about the fact that everyone looks like they’re having a good time except for you. And since this is pre-sobriety days, you order a glass of wine to help yourself feel better. “Getting a little buzzed will help me mingle with the crowd”, you think to yourself.
In fact, Johann Hari author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, points out in her book that it’s the connection between two people that makes a difference in a person’s life. Truth is, when we are at a party without the connection of others, we often reach for a drink. Frequently, it is the lack of connection that prompts drinking. And we believe that having a drink will help make a connection with another person possible.
And isn’t human connection what we all want?
Hari would say absolutely it is. In her book, but she makes one point clear – the antidote to addiction is not necessarily sobriety, but it’s human connection. It’s having others around you with whom you can relate, bond with, share stories and laugh with. Hari explains that often people who drink or use drugs find their solace in substances because it is often the only alternative. However, those who have companionship, camaraderie, and connection seem to thrive without the need for drugs.
This finding is backed by research which indicates the significance of community in one’s recovery. Community gives recovering addicts an opportunity to hear the stories of others, relate to their challenges and successes, as well as find validation for the reasons why they’ve had a difficult life thus far. Community and relationships that can be found in them significantly boost one’s feeling of being supported and thus enhances one’s ability to face stress. Rather than turning to drugs or drinking when life gets challenging, they can turn to the relationships in their lives.
If you recognize that this is what you’re missing, perhaps you might want to explore they type of connection you’d like to have. Some people love the experience of connecting with a group of people, such as in a 12-step meeting. They love being acknowledged as part of a community and having something in common with a crowd of other people.
And other people, don’t like crowds so much. They prefer the one-on-one connection. Perhaps building friendships, amending relationships, or working with a sponsor are ways to get this type of connection in recovery.
Yet, regardless of the type of connection you prefer, just knowing that it’s human connection we crave can help shape our recovery. You might then decide to attend more 12-step meetings or participate in support groups, if you like connection with a group of people. Or you might decide to spend time with one or two sober friends, participate in therapy, or amend the relationships that are important to you.
Although you might have reached for substances in the past to help create connection with others, recovery is an opportunity to connect with others without the need for drugs or drinking.
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