What is the determining factor for success in recovery? The answer is that there is no single factor responsible for a lifetime of sobriety, but there are dozens of factors that make a significant positive impact on a person seeking to maintain their sobriety after addiction. One crucial factor is self-efficacy, or the ability to believe in your own ability to get something done. If you wholeheartedly believe you’re going to stay sober, you’re less likely to relapse. Another factor, however, is the environment you’re recovering in. A positive environment is more likely to encourage you to stay sober.
A big part of that is how the people around you affect your recovery. Alone, getting and staying sober can be very difficult. Addiction treatment is not a matter of willpower, but a chronic condition that heavily affects the brain. A person’s ability to think and calculate risk is compromised after regular drug use, and it’s much more difficult to resist impulses while still under the full influence of a drug addiction. Regardless of how you approach your addiction, all treatments ultimately harken back to a similar origin point: help is needed to get through this process.
Community in Sober Living
Through the lens of addiction treatment, the importance of a positive social environment in a group setting is crucial. Recovering addicts living together at a sober living house should be incentivized to help each other improve and progress at their own pace. Because sober living homes don’t have set programs, tenants are encouraged to seek out other resources for a more individual approach, including experienced therapists with a history of working with recovering addicts, and addiction recovery groups.
However, despite the lack of a clearly-defined collective journey, many recovering addicts share a whole lot in common. Many struggle with the same fears surrounding recovery and relapse. Many share similar forms of guilt. Many share similar stories regarding their early days as an addict. And all have the potential to learn from each other through these stories and the valuable experiences they represent. Fostering this sense of community in a sober living environment is part of why the sober living experience is very effective in helping people maintain their sobriety throughout early recovery and beyond.
You’re Not in This Alone
Addicts face a debilitating amount of stigma and hatred. Despite one in seven Americans facing substance dependence, many addicts experience ongoing shaming and negative perceptions throughout the media and society. On top of the way drug use heavily impacts an addict’s psychology, these negative perceptions further serve to diminish and undermine an addict’s confidence in themselves, their ability to overcome addiction, and the efficacy of any given addiction treatment. Even in recovery, many addicts struggle with feelings of guilt and shame, often too much to bear.
Many also feel that these are feelings they cannot discuss with others, out of a fear of stigmatization. Many refuse to seek out treatment, worrying that in doing so, they might be sealing their fate and risk facing ostracization. But a sense of community can significantly diminish this by helping recovering addicts realize that there is an entire nationwide network of addicts working together to provide opportunities for others to speak out about their experiences and problems, and work through them in a healthy, positive, and compassionate environment composed of a wide variety of individuals whom all share similar experiences despite very different backgrounds.
This sense that you are not alone can be very empowering, especially if the connection is maintained. Addiction requires treatment, not hatred – and a big part of treatment is calling addiction out for what it is and talking openly about how it feels to be addicted. Being able to do so without fear of being misunderstood or insulted can be uplifting.
The Benefits of a Sober Community
A sober community serves to provide its members a variety of different benefits, including:
- A sense of belonging.
- The opportunity to create lasting bonds of friendship.
- Benefiting from the experiences of others.
- Access to a positive support network that helps uplift members.
- A safe space to discuss addiction without the effects of stigma.
By fostering a sense of community within a sober living home, tenants are encouraged to do better, and help others do better as well. Sober living environments live and breathe recovery, in the sense that they consistently promote behavior and thinking that helps recovering addicts manage their cravings and work on life goals that help them develop a responsible self-sustaining lifestyle, maintaining employment, a regular regimen of daily chores, and healthy social interaction with others.
Maintaining Contact After Sober Living
Sober living environments are meant to provide places for recovering addicts to stay for longer than most residential recovery programs usually allow, but they are ultimately designed to be temporary residences rather than permanent homes. At some point, whether after four months or a period of over a year, a recovering addict should move on to finding their own place to stay, continuing to work on the lessons they’ve learned while living at a sober living home. But that does not mean the recovery process is over – nor does it mean that a person’s involvement in the sober community has concluded.
Recovery is a lifelong process, and many recovering addicts feel that they can continue to help others believe in their ability to stay sober and the efficacy of their given program by sharing their experiences, talking frankly about the challenges and struggles of addiction, and providing resources and opportunities to communicate with other recovering addicts.
One of the greater benefits behind a sense of community in sober living is the opportunity to help others as time passes. Helping others in their recovery journey not only gives you the chance to do good, but it can make a positive impact on your recovery as well. Research confirms that it generally feels good to do good and continuing to participate in recovery communities after rehab and sober living can help maintain sobriety and prevent a future relapse.