Community is an important aspect of addiction recovery and sober living. Without community, people feel alone and may even fall back into the bad habits they’re trying to overcome.
In this article, we will take a closer look at drug addiction and community.
Drug Addiction and Community
Addiction recovery is a tough task, but it’s not one anyone has to tackle entirely alone. However, tackling the idea of addiction as an individual issue as something that can be fought as a community in tandem with the individual takes some getting used to. The fact is that most people still cling to old definitions and false tropes in addiction recovery – there is a palpable stigma against former and ongoing addicts that in no way helps them improve their condition, or overcome the addiction and any related illnesses surrounding it.
More often than not, addiction is but a symptom of a greater psychological or even sociological issue – psychological addiction to an addictive substance isn’t a physical dependence, but a mental attachment formed to a substance or behavior because of its efficacy as a coping mechanism, distracting a patient from any inner turmoil or greater issue through the effects of the substance or the behavior.
When you’re treating a person for drug addiction, tackling the mechanical part of the addiction itself through detox isn’t enough. Long-term rehab and a greater understanding of a recovering patient’s issues and circumstances is necessary to facilitate the right kind of treatment – and in many cases, that treatment isn’t just made possible through professionals and mental health specialists, but through the patient’s own close circle of friends, their family, and society itself. We’re going to dig deeper into the role community plays in facilitating addiction recovery.
Here’s what you need to know about drug addiction and community.
The Importance of Community
In our society, addiction is a shameful thing. Outside of the optional denial that clouds some early addicts, realizing that you’re stuck with a substance can lead to a cycle of shame and regret. That isn’t entirely the result of self-reflection, however, but rather a result of how we still see addiction – not as a disease, but as a sign of weakness. Some believe that addicts harbor little willpower – and it’s those beliefs that make it too easy for an addict to slip into hopelessness and self-loathing.
We haven’t gotten addiction completely figured out yet, but as is the way with science, we do know a lot about what addiction is not. Addiction is not a matter of willpower. There are genetic circumstances, environmental circumstances, emotional and socioeconomic circumstances that all play into whether a person will get emotionally attached to a substance or behavior, and whether they’ll develop a physical dependence on it to boot.
Addiction can creep up on you, in the form of medication or a harmless glass or two – and it can be a danger to anyone. Where willpower does most definitely play a role is in the speed with which you overcome your addiction.
But before you can start down that path, it’s important to understand that just because many people feel a certain way about addiction, does not mean that their opinions are more valid than research and scientific consensus.
In other words, to break that first cycle of shame and guilt, you have to accept that getting addicted wasn’t something you planned or willfully achieved – just like a broken toe or a viral infection, it happened, and it’s on you to seek out the right ways to fix it.
Group Therapy and Addiction
A community can play a big role in introducing you to the possibilities for rehabilitation and recovery from drug addiction. With different circumstances come different treatments and paths, and the biggest potential of healing in a community is seeing the successes and victories around you and drawing inspiration from them, even in your most hopeless hours.
Addiction is an individual path, but it doesn’t have to be one you walk all on your own. You can help others walk their path and gain the courage to walk your own, or you can take inspiration through other people’s triumphs and make your own journey one with a happy ending, regardless of the speed bumps along the way.
Healing After Rehab
Not every path of recovery includes rehab, but for those that do, one of the biggest challenges entering the real world after rehabilitation is getting used to the change. The difference between a treatment center and the world can be drastic, especially with residential treatment, which often keeps you isolated from the responsibilities and real accountability of the outside world.
It’s on you to find ways to make it work, prevent a relapse, and get as close to ensuring long-term sobriety as possible – but a steady community or resource can help. Outpatient treatment, group therapy, and other post-rehab recovery options are available to help you get on your feet, stay motivated, and stave off the turmoil and confusion of early post-rehab blues, while you get back to school/get into a line of work, sort out your living situation, reconnect with family and/or friends, and generally find a happy and steady place in life.
Outpatient treatment in particular can help you lead a newly structured life. Life is, as we know, full of surprises – but it never hurts to be prepared when taking them on, especially when you’re still struggling with the temptation of your old addiction.
Addiction as an Individual
No one has to tackle their addiction alone – that was the premise of this entry. But the fact remains that the journey itself is an individual one. Every recovering addict can seek help and guidance, and work with others to build a stronger sense of self and gain insight into how other people deal with their problems – but each case of addiction is unique, individual, governed by different circumstances and best resolved through different treatments. It is an individual journey and one you can’t let someone else do for you.
You can always ask for help, always find others to inspire you, and motivate you with their actions and achievements. But it will be on you to create achievements of your own, reach milestones on your own, and ultimately come to a conclusion all of your own that you’ve overcome your past, and devoted yourself entirely to the present and the future.