A Guide to Early Recovery: Why Having a Mentor Prevents Relapse

Early Recovery | Transcend Recovery

Early recovery is fraught with challenges that often seem insurmountable. After all, rebuilding your life takes time, and you can expect to encounter a great deal of stress. Having a mentor gives you an important person that you can turn to when times get tough. As you create your post-treatment recovery plan, use this information to cultivate a relationship with a mentor that helps you avoid relapse in early recovery and beyond.

Understand What a Mentor Does

Mentors play a supporting role to people who are in early recovery, and it is important to realize that a mentor differs from a counselor because they focus more on helping you stay accountable with your sobriety. A mentor is also not the same thing as a friend. While your mentor will celebrate your achievements, they will also offer services such as home inspections and drug testing to help you stay on track with your commitment to sobriety.

Know Where to Find a Mentor

While you were in treatment, you had everyone you needed to help you get better. Now, it is time to begin building a network of support that will help you stay sober for the long-term after early recovery. Mentors are found in sober living communities where they work with members of the group to ensure that everyone stays committed to a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. These mentors can also work with you on an outpatient basis as you make the transition to living independently.

Recognize the Qualities of a Good Mentor

To be effective, it is important for mentors to understand the nature of addiction. In fact, many of the best mentors have struggled with addiction in the past. They undergo specialized training that allows them to coach you on topics such as goal setting, conflict resolution and managing cravings during early recovery. Naturally, you should feel comfortable talking with your mentor, yet they must also have a strong personality that is capable of holding you accountable if you experience a relapse. You will also want to find a mentor who possesses these qualities.

• Friendly demeanor that sets you at ease
• Strong communication skills
• Experienced in working with people in recovery
• Commitment to ongoing training and self-improvement
• Ability to accept people from diverse backgrounds
• Awareness of challenges that occur in early recovery
• A desire to help others meet their goals

Learn How To Cultivate Positive Relationships

For many people coming out of treatment, their contact with a mentor becomes one of their first experiences with developing positive relationships in early recovery. Over time, your mentor will also extend their reach in your life to include members of your treatment team and your family. As they become involved with other people in your life, your mentor can show you how to improve family dynamics, avoid negative influences and renew relationships that were damaged during your time struggling with addiction.

Be Willing to Open Up to Your Mentor

During your time struggling with drugs and alcohol, you may have stopped trusting people in an effort toward self-preservation. However, it is important to find people that you can lean on now as you advance in your sobriety. Make sure that your mentor is someone that you feel comfortable opening up to about the events that occur in your life during early recovery. Keep in mind that they have heard many things before as they worked with others, and telling them the truth is the only way for them to be able to develop an effective plan for helping you rebuild your life. For instance, you can let your mentor know that you are dealing with a family conflict. Once you do, they can then begin to help you find positive coping methods to mend the relationship and avoid falling prey to your cravings during early recovery.

Meet Regularly to Continue Improving Your Life After Early Recovery

A mentor relationship is designed to last as long as you need it. For some, you may only need a mentor during early recovery when you feel the most alone in life. Alternatively, you may find that having a mentor helps you gradually make improvements over the next year, and you rely on their support each step of the way. Your mentor will also work with you to develop a schedule for meetings that works with your lifestyle. For instance, they may meet with you once a week to chart your progress towards finding a job or check on your sobriety.

Moving forward in your life is easier when you have a sober mentoring program available to provide you with support. During the earliest days of recovery, you will naturally need help identifying the next steps you take on your journey to recovery. Whether you are worried about slipping back into old habits or are ready to jumpstart your progress toward improving your life, your mentor is always there to guide you with positive words of encouragement from your Los Angeles IOP treatment to sober living and beyond.


Sober Mentoring, the Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing a Sponsor

Sober Mentoring, the Do’s and Don'ts of Choosing a Sponsor | Transcend Recovery Community

When you think of therapy, you might think of Freud sitting in his chair near the head of a sofa. There, a patient lies flat with his feet up on the other end and his hands behind his head. He’s going on and on about his dream while Freud nods and groans from time to time. Since then, therapy has dramatically changed. Today, you can expect to face the therapist directly, sit instead of lay on the couch, and talk about all aspects of your life, not just your dreams.

Yet, one of the most essential components to therapy and the treatment of mental illness, including addiction, is the relationship. The therapeutic relationship has been proven to be the most vital ingredient to seeing a client improve. In fact, there is growing research that points to the therapeutic relationship as the most significant factor in the improved well being of clients and this has proven to be true regardless of the diagnosis. Many clinicians might agree that although there are specific treatment interventions they work with, without the therapeutic alliance, those treatments may not be as effective.

This directly applies to getting the sober help a recovery addict might need. When the sponsor/sponsee relationship is secure with a strong rapport and the sober mentoring process begins, it can be the foundation upon which a newly sober individual can find hope, support, and faith in the process.

In fact, if you’re at the point of finding the right sober help from a sponsor, it would be wise to choose someone you can imagine having a supportive relationship with for a while. The following guidelines are meant to point you in the right direction. They’re meant to assist you in finding the right person for you:

      • Perhaps this goes without saying, but the sponsor should have more experience in their sobriety than you. In fact, they should be secure in their sobriety and firmly rooted in living sober.
      • Those who are heterosexual should choose a sponsor that is not of the opposite sex, and the opposite is true for homosexuals. The point is that you don’t want a sexual attraction to get in the way of your growing recovery. Your sponsor should provide sober mentoring and help, not take you out on a date.
      • Your sponsor should be well versed in the 12-steps and in living sober in general. There are some in recovery who attend Alcohol Anonymous (AA) meetings, but who give the 12-step program lip service. If you want to find someone to help you “work the steps,” you’ll need someone who knows those steps well.
      • Don’t dismiss your intuition when you’re choosing a sponsor. The intuitive side to you can lead you towards sober help and point to the perfect sponsor.

Even though you might find the perfect sponsor, keep in mind he or she is not your therapist. Although there was a correlation to therapy drawn at the start of this article, the fact that relationship is essential to growth is the extent of that correlation. A sponsor is not a therapist or a mental health counselor. For that reason, it is best to also work with a therapist in recovery. A mental health professional can provide sober help in the recovery process, safely help you unearth any unresolved trauma, and work through the ambivalence that comes with breaking an addiction.

Of course, you always have the option of choosing another sponsor at any point. Sadly, there are sponsor/sponsee relationships that grow to be dysfunctional, for instance, when a sponsor begins to take advantage of the sponsee. Yet, one of the greatest advantages to getting sober is reclaiming your freedom and empowerment. And here’s a place to exercise that freedom. When you’re with a sponsor who is not supporting you the way that you need, find another one.

Finding sober mentoring and help is not easy, but with time, trust, and your intuition, you’ll find a sponsor who is just right for you.