When attending any kind of therapy, you will most likely hear the term “support system”, usually referred to in slightly vague words as a way to help you through your struggles. But for many people, the idea of building and maintaining a healthy support system is too hazy – how does one go about that properly? This can be especially difficult for anyone with an addiction, as our relationship with substance abuse tends to impact our real-world relationships drastically. There is good news though.
You most likely already have one around you, even if you are unaware of its presence. In this blog, we’re going to take a minute to talk about what a support system really is, why it’s so important, and how you can make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with people that are going to help you recover.
What is a support system?
A support system consists of the people you rely on during tough times, when you feel you need extra help, advice, or even just a listening ear – hence the term “support”. These people can include family members, close friends, a therapist – really anyone who is there for you when you need it.
The saying “no man is an island” could not be truer, and there’s a reason for that! Humans are inherently social creatures – we rely on each other to develop our behaviours, to think and grow as people, and to adapt in times of crisis.
Therefore, building a healthy support system is crucial to recovering, because it does so much for your life going forward. Working towards your recovery from substance dependency is undoubtedly a difficult journey, but it can be made so much easier when you have a foundation of people helping you along – staying on the phone with you when you need it, pointing out things in your life that may be contributing to addictive behaviours, and comforting you when things get really hard.
Building a Healthy Support System
Now, you might be wondering how on Earth to start when it comes to building the system around you, but really it comes down to just one thing: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
People can only reach out to you if they know that something is wrong, and you play a major part in helping yourself by reaching out first!
Understandably, this can be very difficult. Over the course of your addiction forming, some of the key relationships in your life may have been damaged. What those people want most is for you to be happy, healthy and recovered. So, reaching out to them and being honest about your struggles – but also your dedication to getting better – is going to be a huge milestone in rebuilding those relationships.
- Make a list. First, sit down with yourself and think about the people you know – who can help you to progress in your recovery? Choose people who will be there for you, and who won’t make you feel guilty for taking their support. If someone says something like, “You’re lucky that I’m doing this,” or, “If I wasn’t here, you’d never get through this”, don’t choose them. You want people who will support and believe in you. If it’s just two people, that’s just fine. The same goes for five, ten, fifteen people. Write them all down.
- Reach out to one. Take your time, and be kind to yourself. If this is a difficult process for you – which it is for many people in the same situation – then take baby steps! One at a time, reach out to the people on your list and ask for help. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m going through a hard time right now, and I’d really appreciate someone to hang out with on the difficult days”. Everyone needs help now and again, and you are entitled to ask for it just as much as everyone else.
- Use the help once you’ve got it. Now comes the really tough part. On the bad days, the hard days, the days where you want to shut the world out, do the opposite. Let it in. Call one of the people on your list and ask to chat with them for a while, talk to them about what you’re struggling with, or go and grab an ice cream outside. Whatever works for both of you, just do it.
At the end of the day, it will be the choices you make and the path you take that charts a course to recovery – but having friends and family who will take that journey with you eases the burden of doing it alone. There are more people out there who are willing to help than you think – just don’t be afraid to look for them.
Add a team of specialists to your support system.
At Zen Detox, we are a team of highly dedicated rehabilitation specialists who will help you on your journey to active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. If you are feeling lost or trapped, give us a call today and take ownership of your own rehabilitation.