Successfully Transitioning from Sober Living into Life Again

From Sober Living To Life | TRC

Addiction treatment has evolved over the years to grow and encompass an ever-increasing number of circumstances, factors, situations and needs. Addiction is not a disease that has a one-size-fits-all cure, and treatment methods have popped up to accommodate the varying needs across all patient types.

From people seeking a dedicated facility to attend treatment to those who need help while keeping their jobs and living with their families, addiction treatment had to be made flexible to adapt.

Since then, there has been a continuous trend of many people seeking options outside of residential/inpatient treatment, either to continue their recovery through outside means, or to find an option between inpatient and outpatient treatment, to eliminate the major difference that temptation offers.

Many treatment facilities work hard with clients to give them an environment conducive to supporting their sobriety. However, the transition from that environment back into real life can be jarring. Other treatment methods allow patients to visit on a regular schedule, while giving them the opportunity to live their lives. But this carries the risk of higher relapse rates, as patients must have the self-discipline to religiously follow their schedule, and the strength to resist drug cravings even at higher stress levels.

Sober living housing provides a grey between the black and white – a form of treatment that keeps tenants away from any temptation and in the company of fellow recovering tenants, while staying true to the responsibilities and challenges of life outside treatment.

 

What Is Sober Living?

In this context, sober living is a modality rather than a lifestyle. The end goal for any addiction treatment is to make the sober lifestyle a reality – but sober living specifically refers to a facility or setting wherein clients become tenants of a building or community, live according to a few set rules, and are encouraged to engage in community activities while tending to personal hobbies and obligations.

All tenants typically must be in school or have a job, or must actively look for either, and must regularly help with chores. There are curfews, mandatory meetings, and other standards, such as a zero-tolerance policy to bringing or using drugs in the facility, and regular drug testing. Different facilities use different methods and offer different extras – in some cases, rooms are shared, or tenants have separate facilities.

While most sober living communities are gender-specific, some are coed. Men’s and woman’s sober living allows participants to undergo their recovery in a comfortable environment. Prices are usually monthly, in the form of rent and other expenses, and most stay for about six months at a time. However, unlike some other forms of treatment, there is no set limit. Sober living communities encourage tenants to stay as long as they need to.

Sober living always implies an environment that is drug-free and built to encourage regular day-to-day living. The emphasis is less on regimented, dedicated treatment, and more on providing the perfect environment conducive to a healthy and sober lifestyle. While this allows tenants to get used to living in sobriety before transitioning into the outside world, that transition still must take place.

 

How A Sober Community Can Complete Your Recovery

Sobriety is the state of not being intoxicated. To be sober, you must not use drugs. In the case of addiction, not using drugs can at first seem like an impossible task – addiction is a disease that temporarily rewires the brain to crave nothing but drugs, prioritizing them over almost anything else.

But with time, your mind returns to thinking about things normally, processing life in a way that allows you to forcibly and consciously put your previous thoughts on the backburner, forever. Yet sometimes – especially in times of severe pressure, stress, or loss – the urge to use can come back in full force. It is times like this when not using becomes very, very difficult for many, as it seems like an immediate and simple solution to the problem at hand: pain.

The long-term consequences, as obvious as they might be to someone with a clear mind, become less clear when the mind is preoccupied with whatever caused the stress.

That is why recovery is a journey best had with other people. While everyone does ultimately have to make their own choices and dedicate themselves to their own sobriety, being among others and making social contact while you are in recovery can have enormous benefit. Research shows that the social factor in recovery plays an important role, as social support heavily discourages relapses. The idea is simple: when you have friends around during recovery, you are much more likely to rely on them for support, than the artificial high of a drug.

Sober living houses encourage the building and nurturing of a community more than almost any modality in addiction treatment. Through a sober living environment, you spend every day in a tightly-knit community, encouraged not only to live among and alongside other recovering addicts, but encouraged to regularly attend meetings and events that help foster a greater understanding of addiction and one another.

These relationships are not just vital to making life fun in the sober living facility, but they are vital to continuing to stay sober in the outside world. Life can be a bit much at times, but by relying on each other, we can continue to fight on even in the bleakest of times.

 

Learning How To Cope Through (And After) Sober Living

Sober living is about more than staying away from drugs. It is about finding ways to enjoy life for what it is, while taking care of responsibilities and obligations. People in sober living programs are encouraged to work/study, contribute to the community, and participate. In many ways, it helps people readjust to living life alongside others outside of any treatment setting, making the transition that much easier.

However, to successfully transition into real life after a sober living program, the most important thing is to understand the clear differences between the two: that is, the importance of self-reliance and community.

Sober living programs come with curfews, schedules, and requirements. In real life, you must set your own standards and live by them. By setting standards and goals for yourself, you can continue to uphold a balanced and healthy life and maintain your sobriety – even through difficult times. Sober living gives you the time to explore your triggers and build the right coping mechanisms to stay away from relapse – as well as know who to call when you feel trapped and tempted, and who to go to when you cannot be on your own.

Sober living facilities come with the benefit of staying clean by force – there are no temptations, no drugs to abuse. But ideally, a sober living setting will prepare you for a world with all these dangers and temptations, by giving you the toolset you need to steer clear of them even when the cravings are at their strongest, using rational thought and the support of your friends and family.

 

Recovery In Venice Beach, CA: Introducing Our NEW Beachside Men’s House

Stepping into Transcend Venice’s bungalow-style apartments, you might think you were stepping into an artist’s collective. Natural light soaks the main room and a slight breeze carrying the scent of the ocean wafts slowly in and out with the tide. A set of three Basqiuat-inspired skateboards hangs on the wall and a bongo drum sits next to an acoustic guitar in the corner. One suspects that the people who live here find it peaceful, that perhaps they have escaped the chaos of city life for something different in this artist’s enclave by the Pacific that is Venice Beach.

The air itself seems calmer and the sun a little warmer than further inland, back in Los Angeles proper. Mike Malone, the young, silver-haired Program Director here at the Venice Beach house, believes the location enriches sobriety, and that the pacific vibes in Venice aid in the process of creating a new and lasting harmony for people working to get and stay sober. This house, separated from the iconic beach by a decorative bamboo fence and only a few steps from the sand, is embracing the surrounding area by connecting with the Venice community in its mission.

“We’re working toward creating healthy engagement with the community around us,” Mike tells me. “The difference here is the location. It’s a healing place.” It feels as though things move at a different tempo here, and not necessarily slower. As I tour the house, I find a client sitting down at a table in the kitchen, textbooks spread out in front of him. A staff member sits on the couch writing. It’s about two o’clock in the afternoon and the large television is off.

The client explains to me that the Venice Beach house’s clients benefit from its unique location, and the access they have to the vast, eclectic assemblage of art, food, and culture that Venice offers. The experience of living right in the thumping heart of it all fosters an attitude of connection. He tells me that people here are actively engaged, they move around and in their forward motion, they find their grooves in sobriety. This makes perfect sense.

Being in recovery myself, I know how crucial it is to stay active in early sobriety, how all that empty space in the day needs to be filled with constructive, affirming undertakings. These guys are motivated to do just that. These young men are working toward creating a rhythm for themselves, in Venice Beach and in their sobriety. Mike takes me upstairs to see the rooftop deck.

The panoramic view is spectacular, the ocean appearing to come right up to my chin. A few benches and some cushioned chairs are spread out beneath a space heater, and a well-used barbecue sits on the side of the deck. Mike leans out over the horizon and points, “Some of the best surf breaks in the world are down there.”

Beyond the beach itself, there is the constant humming energy of the famous boardwalk. Muscle beach is down there, among the other landmarks.

If an actual California dream existed in some particular location, it would probably be this, right here. The sun, the beach, the skate- and surfboards, the art, and the healthy, enlightened progress that Venice Beach embodies is as close to that California ideal as anything. Transcend’s Venice Beach house seeks to be a part of that essential radical ambition toward the improvement of community through the betterment of self.

Transcend Venice offers those in recovery what Mike refers to several times throughout our conversation as, “Holistic healing.” The whole person is guided toward a new way of seeing, and subsequently, living life. The positive atmosphere in Venice Beach is one element of that grand reimagining of self that is recovery, and it looks like that approach is working.

Venice Beach View | Transcend Recovery Community

Recovery, Transformation, and the Search for Meaning

Recovery, Transformation, and the Search for Meaning | Transcend Recovery Community

There’s a phrase in the mental health field that says Addicts are very spiritual people; they’re just knocking on the wrong door. Instead of finding meaning in life through relationships, a fulfilling career, or through their spirituality, you might say that addicts tend to satisfy their search for meaning through drugs and alcohol. They look for some kind of answer through the highs and altered states that the use of substances bring them.

Yet, there are clearly dangers with this way of finding meaning. Addiction, self-harm, poor health, unhealthy relationships, and legal problems are examples of what can result with finding meaning, whether consciously or unconsciously, through the use of drugs and alcohol. So, what might be a better way to find meaning and satisfaction in life?

This is precisely the question that Transcend Recovery Community asks of their residents.  We invite our residents to explore their aspirations, dreams, and desires. In order to help participants of our programs find new meaning in their lives, we encourage the following:

  1. Create meaningful life goals. Transcend encourages residents to set meaningful goals. Having goals to work toward and something to look forward to can be powerful antidotes to drug addiction. It doesn’t matter what the goals are—whether they involve your career, your personal life, or your health—just that they are important to you.
  2. Stay closely connected to others in recovery. Transcend clearly recognizes that everyone in recovery has a wealth of potential. Our residents are wonderful people with incredible gifts and abilities. By creating a community of sober people, we also create the right environment for channeling the beauty within our clients. It is important to stay in the company of those who share the same life goals, who want to stay sober and who have a positive vision for their lives. Having friendships and peers around you is a reminder that you’re not going through this alone and that you have support.
  3. Stay accountable for your recovery. Transcend believes that the goals and aspirations each resident is after won’t come true unless there is someone there to hold them accountable. By assisting clients in creating a daily schedule, we provide accountability and support their dreams. Transcend also has a tier system based upon client’s accomplishment of goals and consistency towards seeking a sober and meaningful life.
  4. Find a hobby. Transcend gives you time to find an activity that challenges you. Perhaps you want to expand your creativity, explore your imagination, or try something you’ve never done but have always wanted to do – such as learning to play the guitar.
  5. Volunteer. You might not have time to volunteer while residing at one of Transcend‘s sober living homes. But any of our after-care programs will give you time to volunteer. Another way to experience meaning in life is to volunteer at organizations that create social change. You might become active in your church or faith community, or join a local book club or neighborhood running group.

These are ideas for creating new meaning in your life as you progress in your recovery. It’s important to find meaning or soon life can lack happiness and satisfaction. As the psychologist Carl Jung once said, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.”

 

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Why Your Sober Living Home Is a Community for Recovery

Sober Living Home Is a Community for Recovery | Transcend Recovery Community

The journey of recovery is not going to be understood by everyone. Sure, you might have friends and even family members who have said they understand how hard it has been for you or that they can empathize with the challenges you’ve had. However, anyone who is not on the road to recovery themselves is not going to fully grasp what it means to be in recovery from addiction.

If you’re living at a sober living home, then there’s a good chance that you’re surrounded by men and women who are on the same trek to get sober and stay sober. There’s a good chance that they’re facing similar challenges, feeling the same emotions, and hoping for the same things. There’s a very good chance that you and others at your sober living home have a lot in common.

Thousands of years ago, human beings lived in their own sort of communities – tribes. They traveled, worked, ate, and slept in communities. They stayed together as a unit because it was necessary to do that to survive. Today, we don’t have tribes; we have families. But even those are breaking down. Children move away, parents get divorced, and families separate. Many men and women aren’t a part of a community at all. They have to seek them out in their churches, sport teams, and social clubs. And others simply isolate, pulling away from other people, perhaps believing that it’s emotionally safer to be alone. But even still, communities can be hard to find, and worse, hard to feel like you’re a part of even if you do find one. In fact, feeling lonely and feeling like you don’t belong is one of the primary reasons why people turn to drinking and drug use in the first place.

And now, here you are: in recovery and in a sober living home, a place that is inherently a community. A place where others are walking the same journey you are. And not only that, you are likely seeing each other in the kitchen or living home of your sober living home, at 12-step meetings, and support groups.

Here’s what a sober living community can do for you:

  • Restores hope.
  • Creates confidence.
  • Combats loneliness.
  • Helps improve self acceptance.
  • Strengthens commitment.
  • Boosts empowerment.
  • Creates a feeling of belonging.
  • Encourages open and honest communication.
  • Provides opportunities to help others.
  • Provides opportunities to witness success and effects of relapse in others.

People crave connection. Desiring connection with others is a natural response. Human being s are social creatures. We cannot live in isolation. Even when we are born we need the assistance of our parents to feed, nurture, and tend to all our needs in order to survive. And that doesn’t change as we get older.

If you’re craving connection with others, but not sure how to start, begin with a simple hello. When you see your roommate, ask her how her day is going. When you see someone at a 12-step meeting, compliment them on how they share at each meeting.

Your sober living home is a natural community. It is in the context of community that people heal, grow, and succeed.

 

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Recovery Can Include All Members of Your Family

Recovery Can Include All Members of Your Family | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is an experience that immediately separates you from everyone else. In fact, addiction even creates an inner separation – from who you really are, from what you want in life, and from your hopes and dreams. Because addiction impairs the relationship with yourself and puts a wedge between you and others, part of the healing process of recovery is involving those you love. As you heal from addiction, there’s a greater chance your relationships with others will also heal.

And it’s important to have your family around you! Just as you would want your family around you when healing from a physical illness, such as cancer or pneumonia, it’s important to involve your family when recovering from addiction. Family members can boost hope, courage, strength, and resilience. Having your family along with you as you recover can also help you feel supported and keep feelings of loneliness at bay.

In fact, Transcend feels so strongly about surrounding you with family that we’ve woven the presence of family into the recovery experience. For instance, every two months, we facilitate a family weekend, which is an opportunity to reestablish healthy communication, repair relationships, and feel supported by those you love. Transcend also recognizes that even family members will need to recover from the effects of addiction. By providing an opportunity for everyone to get together, healing can take place.

Truth is, making amends is one of the first steps to healing from a family wound, trauma, or significant life event that might have initially contributed to an addiction. And sometimes, it’s not one particular event, it’s simply a dysfunctional family environment. There might have been codependency, alcoholism, or emotional abuse in your family history. Making amends and accepting your life as it was in the past is a necessary part of recovery. And it can facilitate healing.

And that healing can happen on many levels. When relationships within a family get stronger, so do the people within that family. Here are a few healing benefits that come with a healthy and happy family unit:

  • Better communication
  • Feeling supported
  • Feelings of connection and inclusion
  • Decrease in blaming others
  • Greater appreciation among family members
  • Forgiveness
  • Increased experiences of honesty
  • Ability to heal and let go of the past
  • Ability to move on and focus on the future

To help you rebuild your family relationships, Transcend communicates with your family on a weekly basis. We even have a Family Director who can provide you with a new set of language skills to help facilitate better, more effective communication between you and your family members. Our Family Director can also provide you with support in the challenging journey of making amends and reestablishing family relationships. Later in your recovery, you may want to continue to strengthen your family relationships by inviting family members, friends, or other loved ones on regular outings together. You may want to commit to having dinner together regularly. Spending more time together can help build family relationships. If you need to, you may want to mourn together, celebrate together, or even experience forgiveness together.

Family members, friends, and other loved ones are essential for healing from addiction. Involve them in your recovery whenever you can.

 

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Recovery Returns To You All That Addiction Took Away

Transcend Recovery Community likes to ask its community members, “What do you want to do with your life?” We believe that anyone who is on the path of recovery has the potential to reach their dreams. Although addiction can steal happiness, honesty, and wholeness, recovery can bring it all back.

Here is a list of what recovery can do for you:

Community – When you’re struggling with addiction, you tend to become more and more isolated. Dishonesty, lying, and hiding tends to put a distance between you and your friends and family. Addiction will also create distance within yourself by consistently denying the fact that there is a problem. While you’re lying to your friends and family, you’re also likely lying to yourself. Yet, in recovery, those separations from yourself and others begin to disappear. You’re given the opportunity to heal your relationships, experience the benefits of community, and feel good about yourself.

Honesty – When you’re in recovery, you might be participating in support groups, therapy, and 12-step meetings. These are all opportunities to be honest with yourself and others. You finally have the chance to say what you’ve already wanted to say but perhaps couldn’t. The supportive experiences that you tend to have in recovery are meant to encourage honesty because it can lead to healing and growth.

Connection – One of the reasons people tend to use alcohol and drugs is because they desperately want connection. Perhaps they want a deeper connection with friends or family but never experienced it. And depression, which can be experienced as a lack of connection with yourself, can also drive someone to use substances. Yet, in recovery there are many opportunities to connect. And it is through connection that people feel seen, heard, and understood. It’s through interpersonal connection that healing takes place.

Support – Another reason behind substance use is feeling alone, lonely, or isolated. And feeling like you need to make it through life alone can be so scary that men and women turn to substances to feel stronger. Or they may want to escape the burden of loneliness through substances. Either way, recovery means support. Even if you have lost the relationships with your family, recovery brings the support of a sober community, professional help, and the assistance of new friends.

Joy – As you continue on your path of sobriety and as you’re having more and more connections with friends and professional staff – as well as with yourself – you might actually experience a moment of joy. You might start out with a small feeling of happiness, contentment, or the experience that life feels a bit easier. Perhaps these moments of the beginning of bringing joy back into your life.

When you’re on the path of recovery, you can start reaching for your dreams. As one Transcend graduate put it:

“After Transcend, I took a job in Boston and did very well there for almost three years. I bought a house, bought a car, and had a very solid, stable job. I design lasers and wrote a textbook for grad students in nonlinear optics. I moved to Denver to join a laser startup company in October 2015 as the CTO. I’m living downtown and enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle, and my workaholism tendencies remain successfully at bay.”

You can read more Transcend testimonials here. To make your dreams a reality, let recovery give back to you what addiction took away.

 

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The Power of a Recovery Community, Because the Opposite of Addiction Is Connection

If you’re new to a sober living home or new to a 12-step meeting, you might feel like you don’t fit in. You might feel odd or like you don’t belong. If you’re used to spending time with friends and people you’re familiar with and suddenly you’re spending large amounts of time with strangers, you might even feel intimidated and nervous. You might feel self-conscious about the things you say and what you do, wondering if your new community of people are going to accept you for who you are.

It’s common for addicts to have a low sense of self-esteem. And those patterns of low self-worth can persist into recovery. However, there are ways to feel better, feel a connection with your new community, and even feel supported by them. It’s so easy to feel uncomfortable going into a new environment, especially if the others have already formed a group of their own. Yet, although it feels odd, there are important tips to remember so that you don’t feel like the odd man out but rather the one everyone welcomes with open arms.

Check in with your own feelings and thoughts. When you’re about to go into a new support group or 12-step meeting, and especially if you’re feeling nervous, notice that some of what you’re feeling is a pattern. You probably always feel this way around new people. You might have patterns of feeling uncomfortable until you get to know someone. It’s important to know that these are simply patterns in your mind so that they don’t bring you down or interfere with making new friendships.

Get to know people before making up your mind about them. When you are feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, it’s easy to be judgmental of others as a form of self-protection. For instance, if you have an interaction with someone and the other person feels cold to you, you might think to yourself, “Well, he’s a jerk.” It’s easy to blow someone off and make up your mind about them without really knowing them. You don’t know if he was having a bad day, upset by something that was said in the meeting or just doesn’t know how to socialize very well. When you’re new to a group, give people a few chances before blowing them off.

Treat those you meet with kindness. It might sound obvious but kindness can go a long way. If you’re used to bantering, making fun of, or even arguing with friends, then kindness might feel odd to you. But as you can imagine, most people respond well to kindness, especially at the beginning of a friendship.

Volunteer your time. Whether you’re living at a sober living home or attending regular 12-step meetings, when you volunteer you show that you care. You send the message that sobriety is important to you. But not only that, you also send the message that you want to help others out too. You want to be there for your peers. Others in the group often appreciate and even admire the volunteers for putting in the extra time and effort.

These are tips for feeling more comfortable in your new sober community.

 

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Your Sober Tribe Affects Your Vibe

If you’re in recovery then you’re probably meeting new people every day. Every time you go to a 12-step meeting or attend a support group, you might run into someone you’ve never seen before but someone who shares the goals of sobriety and recovery from addiction. And if you reside at a sober living home, then you might have opportunities to interact with and form relationships all your housemates.

But not everyone you meet in sobriety will be your kind of person. Just because they are in recovery, like you, doesn’t mean that you’ll love everything about them. For that reason, it’s important to find your tribe, your network of people that you resonate with. It’s necessary to find the type of crowd that speaks your language and with whom you have more than just sobriety in common.

For instance, you might be an artist. Perhaps you want to connect with other artists and uncover how being creative can support and perhaps jeopardize your sobriety. For so many artists, getting into a creative spirit meant having a drink or getting high. On the other hand, creativity might be healing and spiritually nourishing in recovery. Having a circle of artists around you who are also focused on recovery can be supportive.

Or perhaps you’re lesbian or gay. Over the years, many resources have been created for the sober LGBTQ community. But it wasn’t always that way. In 1969, The AT Center began after 6 gay men met for an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and decided to call themselves “Alcoholics Together”. Membership quickly grew through the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, throughout Southern California and even in cities far away such as Boston and New York, the acronym “AT” became synonymous with gay AA. Today, the gay Los Angeles sober living community now knows The AT Center as a significant place for refuge.

Another growing community within sober living groups is one that is focused on wellness. Many recovering addicts place emphasis on yoga, meditation, acupuncture and other holistic practices in their recovery. In fact, some would say that their recovery wouldn’t be what it is without these practices.

And along the same lines, many men and women in recovery rely heavily on their spirituality. They may find their support for sobriety through their church by attending church-related 12-step meetings or bible studies for recovering addicts. They may resonate highly with the emphasis on spirituality in each of the 12-steps.

Community is an essential component to recovery for many men and women. It’s the primary reason behind the recommendation to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days for new recovering addicts. Men and women find support in the personal stories that reflect obstacles and challenges faced by many in the group. And those stories are strengthened and may have more meaning when there’s a shared worldview or common interests.

If you’re new to recovery, don’t just look to spend time with those who are sober, but find your own unique tribe within the sober living community.

 

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How to Get the Support You Need in Recovery from Addiction

Having a solid support system in addiction recovery is extremely important. And there is a wide range of support in recovery, many of which are free of charge. Despite this, there are many recovering addicts who simply do not get the help they need. There may be many reasons for this, including financial obstacles, stigma from friends or family, self-judgment, or fear. But the support is out there. And it’s available when anyone is ready and willing.

Certainly, recovery is not an easy journey, but those who have done it are thrilled and grateful they did. Recovery might be compared to climbing a mountain. Along the way there may be challenges, dangers, and setbacks, but once you reach the top, you feel fulfilled and joyful and experience a sense of accomplishment. For most people, the journey of sobriety is well worth the challenges.

But you will have to overcome the inner obstacles that stand in your way. For instance, here are steps for overcoming fear, stigma, and self-judgment:

Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Sometimes, you might not even know what it is exactly that’s keeping you from getting the help you need. Whether you’re in recovery or not, you might simply be resisting change but not sure why. If you take a few minutes out of your day and tune into your feelings, you might be able to identify what’s going on inside. You may be able to pinpoint whether it’s fear or judgment or stigma.

Take action despite your feelings. Nelson Mandela once said: The brave man is not he who feels afraid, but he who conquers that fear. However, you probably won’t be able to take action before identifying what you’re feeling first. If you can identify what’s holding you back then you can make a conscious decision to call for help, attend the 12-step meeting, or talk to your sponsor.

Join a sober community. Even if the only thing you did was become part of a community of others who were working toward health and sobriety, that alone will be a significant step. You might meet others who are also afraid or also concerned about losing their old life. Your feelings and fears will be validated, but your hopes and dreams will also be validated. In other words, you’ll see that there are others who are afraid but who are working toward their sobriety goals nonetheless. A sober community will inspire hope, courage, and emotional well-being.

Talk to someone. Another step to take, especially if you’re feeling afraid about doing anything else, is to talk to someone you trust. And this doesn’t even have to be a therapist or drug counselor. Simply talking to a friend, relative, or your spouse can help get your feelings out. And as a result you might feel more clear-minded.

As mentioned above, the help is out there. There are all sorts of online communities, 12-step meetings, and support groups that anyone can attend, and most of them are free. Yet, sometimes when it comes to changing your life, you may need to overcome those inner obstacles to get the help you need. The above suggestions are tips to help you do that.

 

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When the Whole Community Shares a Vision, Everyone Wins

One of the greatest qualities of communities is that they have something in common. They share a goal, a vision, or an endeavor. A group of people who come together are not necessarily a community. What makes them a community is when they have something in common, something they commune with, which unites them. An online dictionary defines community as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”.  For instance, in New York City, there are many ethnic  communities, such as Little Italy or Little Brazil. What makes these parts of the city unique is that they inhabit a group of people who share the same culture. The people in these communities immediately have a bond because of their ethnic background.

The same is true in recovery. There can be an immediate bond because of the shared goal of sobriety. There is an immediate understanding of one another. Everyone is struggling with or has struggled with the endeavor of getting sober and staying sober. Everyone is making an effort toward changing their lives. Because of the shared vision of living a healthy and sober life, simply being in the community helps to strengthen one’s own personal vision.

Another benefit of having a shared vision is that everyone has someone to rely on. Individuals in the group eventually find their unique roles, working toward supporting the benefit of the whole. For instance, within a sober community there might be:

Leaders: These are those who might say hello to newcomers, volunteer to set up 12-step meetings, become sponsors, and take responsibility for the health of the group.

Sponsors: These are those individuals who know the difficulty of the process and who might volunteer to support others through the 12-step process, or another type of recovery model.

Spokespeople: These are the individuals who know the importance of sharing their own story both to heal themselves and to help the healing of others. They might visit recovery centers, speak at 12-step meetings, or facilitate support groups.

Gatherers: These are people who may not necessarily play a role in a recovery community but gain so much out of it that they often invite others. They see the benefits of community that they feel inspired to share those benefits with others.

Attendees: Newcomers may not play any role at all. But they may simply be a part of a community and that alone is significant. It is significant for their own recovery but also for the recovery of others. Simply being a part of a recovery community supports the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

Regardless of the role you play in your recovery community, you matter. The community exists because of the people involved and the vision you share. And simply by being a part of the community, you gain from it. You gain the support, courage, and hope that sober communities offer to each of its members.

 

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