A compulsion is an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against your own conscious wishes. Acting compulsively, whether it’s with drinking or eating or gambling, is the essence of having an addiction. Behaving in a way that you just can’t seem to stop is quintessential experience of acting compulsively.
It’s as though you have a battle with yourself. There’s a part of you that continues to live your life, as you have been. You spend time with friends, family, and co-workers. But inside you know that perhaps something is out of control. Behind closed doors, you drink a little more often than you should. Under the radar, you know that you’re use of marijuana is getting out of control.
Having an addiction is having a loss of control. You might find yourself spending large amounts of time engaging in alcohol-related activity to the point where you are neglecting social, academic, or familial responsibilities. You’re not only drinking but you’re thinking about drinking. You’re planning your day so that you can drink. You’re planning your financial life so that you can be sure to have enough money to buy alcohol throughout the month. Everything is centered around drinking, even though you don’t see why anything is wrong.
One of the significant problems to this is that the hidden nature of the addiction makes it stronger. Hiding it, keeping drinking or drugging behind closed doors, only strengthens the need for it. There’s an obsession that develops – an unhealthy one, an obsession that becomes destructive. Your compulsive behavior grows until you begin neglecting social, work, and/or family responsibilities.
That’s why, finding a sober living community is incredibly healing. The primary reason community is so effective for recovery is that it takes the secretive, hidden quality of the addiction off the table. Suddenly, in a sober living community, where there are other adults who are in recovery as well, addiction and the road to living sober is being openly discussed. The horrible experiences, the challenges, the obstacles, and the breakthroughs are being shared among people who have been to the bottom too.
Of course, the most classic sober living community called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson, sometimes known as Bill W. Since its founding, AA communities have sprung up around the world. And if you’re in recovery, participating in a sober living program, whether that’s living at a treatment facility or a sober living home, then you’re likely attending AA meetings as a part of your weekly program.
The benefits to a sober living community are not unlike those experienced in group therapy. Group therapy is a treatment method similar to individual therapy, although there are a number of people in the room discussing a psychological or social concern they share. There is often at least one mental health professional in the room to facilitate a therapeutic discussion of the topic.
In group therapy, and in a sober living community, a person can find others who are struggling with the same issues. They can come out of the dark about the concerns they are having. Parents, spouses, and children of those struggling with addiction can also experience the benefits of community in support groups. For instance, Al-Anon is a related AA community for loved ones of those struggling with addiction or in recovery. Such a group can provide loved ones with the resources they need to support their addicted relatives or friends through the difficulties of addiction and breaking free of an addiction’s grasp.
The fact that someone might need to hide their drinking or drug use or that they need to minimize the destructive effects of their using makes joining a community of those in recovery incredibly helpful and healing. Joining the community within sober living can be the primary method by which your recovery begins.
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