The Importance of Recovery Communities for Addiction and Abuse

Close-up cropped photo of group of people walking along grassy area in early morning sunlightAnyone who has ever been in recovery from addiction or abuse can attest to the fact it is not easy. The process of recognizing there is a problem; increasing motivation to take control; seeking support; and identifying the types of people, environments, and situations that will allow for recovery may, at times, seem impossible. It is the difficulty of the work of recovery that makes recovery communities all the more important—in many cases, crucial.

What Are Recovery Communities?

Recovery communities are organized and structured support networks that focus on the specific issues and needs that are relevant to the participants. For those recovering from substance abuse, the recovery community may focus on understanding the urges and triggers surrounding substance use. The community taps the experience of newer and longer-term community members to foster support as well as key strategies to prevent relapse.

In the instance of people recovering from sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, these communities provide a safe space for individuals to share and process their experiences; connect with others who have had similar experiences; and receive ongoing support to promote healing, self-confidence, and self-worth. They may also include a prevention aspect to help recovering people learn how to identify and avoid situations and environments that may be harmful. These communities can be broad or highly specific, virtual or in-person, open or closed.

Why Should I Join a Recovery Community?

Two of the most insidious issues with addiction and abuse are the feelings of shame and isolation that typically accompany those experiences. It becomes difficult to know who you can talk to, to know who is safe and who will provide support in helping work through things.

Recovery communities are a collection of people who are motivated both to promote their own recovery and to form relationships that decrease the sense of shame or isolation they faced because of the abuse or addiction.

Once you’ve identified yourself as someone in recovery, it becomes important to reengage with the world around you in new and different ways. For some people, this might mean finding new people to be around, people who help support and maintain habits you are adopting in your recovery.

Recovery communities are a collection of people who are motivated both to promote their own recovery and to form relationships that decrease the sense of shame or isolation they faced because of the abuse or addiction. Joining a recovery community allows those in recovery to connect with and help others. Knowing that your story and your engagement in a recovery community helps others through their own recovery process can have significantly positive effects on self-worth and self-efficacy.

How Do I Choose a Recovery Community?

First, it’s important to identify what you are recovering from. You are not limited to joining one recovery community. If, for example, you are recovering from intimate partner violence and substance abuse, you may find yourself part of two different recovery communities that focus on separate areas of recovery.

Second, consider what community of people you feel would be best suited to help you through recovery. You may decide you want to join a community with participants of the same gender identity or groups with a particular cultural understanding. Or perhaps you want to join a community that uses spiritual or religious practices that you want to incorporate into your life. Doing a little research on who is in the community beforehand may lead you to feel more comfortable when you join. It may also encourage greater participation and involvement within your chosen community.

Another key consideration when choosing a recovery community has to do with access and availability. Would you prefer a community that is local? While some people may prefer anonymity as they work through their recovery, others may enjoy knowing that members of their community are close by and readily accessible. Some community groups may be open, meaning new members might be able to join or drop by at any time. Other groups are closed or may have limited opportunities for new members to join.

Do in-person groups appeal to you or are you more interested in virtual communities? In-person communities allow you to be with people in real time but may be harder to attend because of physical or time restrictions, whereas virtual communities may allow you have greater access to members and get support during hours that an in-person group might not be available.

If you are interested in joining a recovery community and are already seeing a professional, they may be able to recommend a group for you. Well-known recovery communities include AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Al-Anon (for family and friends), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). If you are at the beginning stages of recovery, meeting with a mental health professional may be a valuable first step before entering a recovery community.

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Deanna Richards, LMHC, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • susann

    susann

    September 19th, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    So important! I know that this is a little bit different but I just heard someone saying on the radio that friends are as important and healing for us as smoking is bad for those who smoke.
    This is the confirmation that I believe that we all need to hear that recovery is not something that you can go through alone nor should you have to . This is something that anyone will need help with, will need others to support them through an that is why a model like this could be so truly helpful, maybe even life changing who is trying to clean up their lives.

  • Vic

    Vic

    September 21st, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    can’t imagine where I would be without my NA group, have kept me going through the good and the bad since I got sober, might not work for everyone but it has been a blessing for me

  • Natasha

    Natasha

    September 22nd, 2017 at 2:09 PM

    I do not think that I could ever be comfortable in some kind of group situation where I was having to lay my soul out to bare for those who are also there to hear. There is nothing to me that seems like that would be helpful or therapeutic, for me it would be pretty frightening really. I am an introverted person so I would have to find a different way to have a recovery community.

    I like the concept of doing something online because then you don’t have to be with people face to face.

  • Kenneth

    Kenneth

    September 25th, 2017 at 3:30 PM

    It is quite possible that everyone could benefit from some type of group work, and that doesn’t mean always having to be an active participant. There could be times when just sitting in on a meeting as an active observer could make a huge difference to you. You could hear someone sharing their story and think about how much this correlates to your own life. I wouldn’t give up on it before even giving it a try.

  • arnie R

    arnie R

    September 26th, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    You can try many different ones and decide on the one that works best for you. Or maybe it might be more than one, you just have to find your people, the group that touches you and feels like it will make the most difference to you at this point in your life.

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