clapping after a session

Community Involvement in Addiction Recovery

Published on December 28, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

Being involved in a community while going through recovery from addiction is just as significant as the community being involved in helping those in recovery. The purpose of community is to bring people together in advocacy and support of each other to overcome challenges. Enjoying each other’s company also provides a sense of belonging, connection, and deep, meaningful relationships that many of us desire. 

“Brotherhood” or “camaraderie” amongst first responders is a sign of how important community is and how much we rely on one another for support and connection. This bond is as essential for survival as it is for health, wellness, and recovery. Being bonded in brotherhood or sisterhood within our community can help us feel less alone. Sometimes, it can feel impossible to share feelings or ask for help from our community. This may be because many people who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse may not be accustomed to sharing what is going on in their lives and may tend to withdraw into themselves. The perceived stigma around addiction can also lead those who want help to remain silent. However, once we do open up, it can feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted from our shoulders because we are no longer bearing our burdens alone; a trusting community is there to help carry some of the weight.   

Work Community

Being in a supportive environment is sometimes not enough. Members of a community should also actively reach out and encourage one another to be open and honest. Sometimes finding the courage to ask for help can be made easier when someone creates an environment in which seeking help is encouraged; this can make a world of difference to someone in need. Some of this can be implemented through peer-to-peer counseling at work, in which the environment is more conducive for sharing experiences and building coping skills and resilience. When there is an open space to respond to each other with empathy and constructive support, individuals feel valued and understood. It can also build stronger trust among peers, which is critical when they are in life-threatening situations together. This can allow more first responders to discover the resilience they can access through the help of others.

Establishing New, Healthy Relationships

A community can be found in various places, such as within the workplace, family, church, or school, but in recovery, it is often best to also seek out the companionship of other sober individuals. Looking for a community that shares some of the same challenging experiences as you is a way to have continued support and insight during vulnerable times. Just as people within your workplace know the challenges you face as a first responder, someone who has been through recovery may also have similar experiences that allow you to bond. Recovery is more than stopping the use of drugs or alcohol; it also means actively creating a healthier existence rather than defaulting back to old patterns and behaviors. Sober relationships support a sober lifestyle

Social Life

During early sobriety, it may feel impossible to imagine having active social lives again. The community you may have associated with beforehand may have had interactions and activities that revolved around substance use. Making adjustments to socializing while sober can be challenging but being around people who support your sobriety is key to long-term recovery. Social activities that support health and well-being in sobriety can include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Sharing a meal 
  • Movie Nights
  • Playing sports
  • Game nights
  • Sober social events

Finding sober activities with a community of people who have had shared experiences can be a great way to have a vibrant social life in recovery. Being in recovery does not have to mean the end of your social life. Your social life can be a healthy place to find a community that encourages you to be the best you can be, providing a sturdy foundation for the road ahead.   

Finding these healthy, supportive communities within the workplace and among friends is an essential step to long-term recovery. Although it can be daunting trying to find your place within a community in recovery, finding the courage to reach out and develop healthy relationships can be beneficial. Having people around that actively create a space that encourages being open and honest can help with accountability and resilience. 

We all have an innate need for connection. Isolation and loneliness can often play prominent roles in keeping a person stuck in addiction cycles. Having reliable community support can help an individual in recovery guard against these feelings that could potentially lead to relapse.       

The physical and emotional demands of stressful situations can be especially hard to handle in recovery, as a first responder. Finding a strong sense of community in the workplace and friendships can help safeguard your mental health and well-being. These tight-knit relationships can help with accountability, motivation, and a sense of belonging: all qualities that fight against loneliness addiction can bring. It is also essential for communities to reach out to individuals in need. Having brotherhood or sisterhood camaraderie within the first responder community can be both life-saving and necessary for mental health, as finding a strong community in recovery is vital. This can help build resilience in recovery as well as provide an outlet for healthy coping mechanisms. At First Responders Wellness, we provide an opportunity for healing within a community of others who have shared lived experiences. Reach out to us at (888) 743-0490.