A support network is a group of people who are there for you. They want you to remain clean and sober and won’t enable you to return to your past life. They are loving, they are kind, and they have strong boundaries. These are the people you can call when times get tough and the people you can celebrate your milestones with. Let’s see what it takes to make a good support network.
What Makes a Good Support Network?
What does it mean to have support? Support means having someone there who can help you work through a difficult moment, remind you of your worth, and remind you why you started the journey into recovery. Supports are there for you to lean on, but healthy supports will never enable you. Here are a few key components of healthy supports.
- Trust: The most important part of healthy support is trust. If you don’t fully trust the other person and or they don’t fully trust in you, how can you ever connect? Trust means fully believing in the other person, believing they would never harm you, and that they have your best interest in mind. Without trust, communication breaks down and the relationship begins to rot from the inside out.
- Communication: Just like trust, you need an open line of communication—both ways. You need to be able to tell the other person how you feel without fear of judgment, but the person on the other end also has to feel they can be real with you and keep you grounded. Good communication means sharing your fears and joys, listening to the other, and working to build a language that you can both understand.
- Honesty: Honesty is key. Each party must be able to tell the truth. You need to share your true thoughts and feelings to be able to work through difficult moments while the other needs to ensure they can speak from their heart so as to not enable. Take the time to create a safe space for each other, learning each other’s language and boundaries.
- Boundaries: The most important aspect of any support network is boundaries. The people on the other end of our lifelines are just that—people. They have emotional limits and lives of their own which means we have to ensure we are asking them if they have time and space for us when we are struggling. Boundaries show both parties that there is self-worth, compassion, and love involved in the relationship.
Who Can I Count On?
This answer will undoubtedly change from person to person, even year to year. As we change, so do the people around us, especially when treatment is involved. Here are a few types of people you can look toward for support and care but here’s a gentle reminder: you can always choose to sub people in and out of your life. Creating your boundaries comes from within. You are the new master of your destiny and you decide who stays and who goes.
- Family: Family can be the first line of defense for us when it comes to getting clean, sober, and healthy. It could be the family you live with or one family member that always has your back. If you have family members that accept you, support you, and want to be a part of your recovery, keep those lines opens, especially if you live with them.
- Friends: Not all of us are close with our families or even have family members that support us or our sobriety, and that’s okay. That’s what friends are for! Look to some core friends you can trust. Look to the people who won’t enable, especially those who aren’t connected to using or drinking. Friends are the families we choose. It’s time to find some great people who are healthy, happy, and supportive.
- Medical Staff: Whether it’s your psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, or your therapist, there are lots of people rooting for your success who are here to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support. That’s what they get paid to do! They want to ensure you stay healthy and work towards a life free of struggle. Set up regular appointments with your medical supports to ensure you stay on track mentally and physically.
- Group: Whether it’s AA, IOP, or an out-patient art therapy group, attending a group session at least once a week can be a huge support. These groups were created with people like you in mind. Reach out and step into a world of people looking to get healthy and make big life changes just like you. The group is a great reminder that you are not alone.
Counting on Yourself
Building a solid support network that you can trust and rely on takes time. Don’t be afraid to keep your circle small in the beginning. It’s important to take time to pick the right people, and getting to know those people doesn’t happen overnight.
At the end of the day, you may find yourself without support in certain moments. Not everyone can be everything you need at all hours of the day. That’s why it’s important to be able to count on yourself. The people around you are your supports, but you are the foundation. Think about it like an actual house with a foundation and internal structure. That’s you. Others can come by and reinforce the foundation, add support beams to your home, but the real work, the real strength comes from you.
It’s not always easy to reach out for help, but we all know when it’s time. If you are struggling to find a support system that makes you feel safe and heard, The Bridge NYC is a boutique luxury sober living facility for men seeking a concierge experience to balance outpatient programs, school, or work-life resulting in a sustainable, lasting recovery. Call (646) 928 0085 today for more information about admissions or The Clean Fun Network.