Overview: A strong support network is a powerful tool for recovery. To build one, people in recovery need to be honest and clear with those around them on what they need, be patient with the process, and offer feedback to help build the network.
Building A Network
Key to recovery is the understanding that substance use is not one habit, but a web of routines, friendships, and transactions where substance use sits at the center. Think of substance use disorder as a spindle, with all the different aspects of life connected to it like threads. As the spindle twists, the threads warp, and some threads may snap.
Consistent emotional support in a personal network of relationships has been shown to be one of the cornerstones of staying on the path to recovery. For those traveling that path, having trusted people to talk to openly about problems can lift personal pressures, yet helping them build a network will require more than a phone number and a promise to talk.
It should be remembered that building, or in some cases rebuilding, a personal support network is not a quick process. Everyone involved will need to accept that it will take time and work to build. Coming together to support someone in recovery is a noble goal.
Yet everyone has their own feelings and needs that can limit how much they have to give at first. Being patient will lay the needed groundwork for a strong support network.
In some cases, building a strong network will require some hard discussions. We all tend to default to the belief that if we were doing something hurtful or rude, people would feel safe enough to tell us so. But that’s not always the case.
People in recovery, in particular, can struggle with this due to self-esteem issues, their communication style, or personal relationship concerns.
That said, honesty needs to be front and center. People in the support network need to be able to say, and to hear, the truth. They need to be able to accept that how they see an interaction might be very different from how the other does and learn to consider that going forward.
Invite and Apply Feedback
Finally, one of the core difficulties any member of a support network can face is applying the feedback they get productively. In some cases this will be as simple as being a little more thoughtful with what you say and do. Other types of feedback might tap deeper into more complicated issues.
It’s not uncommon for people in an emotional support network to have to construct and use the same emotional tools as the person they’re supporting. This is a process of growth, and it’s good for everyone to experience, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Applying feedback, and discussing how it can be applied, is going to be part of that process.
Building a supportive recovery network is just one part of the journey. Being in a supportive environment can help build networks and develop coping strategies and tools to better navigate the path to a healthier life. To learn more, contact us.