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Individuals recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) face many challenges in early recovery. A strong support system is essential for maintaining healthy changes after treatment. However, a support system is only helpful if clients use it regularly and keep the people closest to them updated about their condition. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Having a good support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully talking about your own mental health.” West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with the resources and skills they need to build a healthy support system during treatment

The Role of a Support System in Long-Term Recovery

A support system provides motivation, inspiration, and meaningful insights for people recovering from SUD. Everyone should have a support system to help them navigate early recovery and ongoing sobriety. Family and close friends often make up the majority of people’s support. According to Electronic Physician, “[P]ositive social communication with family members and friends reduces anxiety and develops the feeling of security.” Family members and friends benefit from playing an active role in supporting their loved one’s recovery. 

In long-term recovery, a support system provides the following: 

  • Stabilization 
  • Accountability 
  • Advice 
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Guidance 

A support system doesn’t replace psychotherapy or other forms of treatment. Instead, it provides people in recovery with additional resources. Support systems come in all shapes and sizes. Some people function well with only a handful of people to help them, while others may benefit from a more extensive support system.

Who Can Provide Support?

People in recovery may worry about whether or not the people in their lives count as part of their support system. However, there is no list of people who can and cannot be a source of support and motivation. You don’t need to be a blood relative or someone with close personal ties to support someone’s recovery. 

A support system is made up of multiple people who regularly interact with individuals in recovery. Anyone who plays a part in the recovery process may be considered a part of your support system, including: 

  • Family members 
  • Friends 
  • Acquaintances 
  • Therapists and counselors 
  • Psychiatrists 
  • Other medical professionals

Some people consider anyone they have a close relationship with to be part of their support system. Other people may only count their care team or significant other as a part of their support system. 

Why You Should Update Your Support System Regularly

Members of your support system are aware of your circumstances, diagnosis, and personal needs. Keeping them updated on your recovery during treatment and aftercare allows them to provide you with additional support and valuable insights. Your support system might have suggestions for lowering stress, improving positivity, and overcoming everyday challenges. However, they cannot help if they don’t know what you are going through. Keeping them updated enables you to stay grounded and more self-aware.

How to Stay in Contact 

Often, people in recovery have to juggle many responsibilities, including relationships, support group meetings, aftercare check-ins, and individual therapy. Finding time to connect with various members of a support system regularly might feel like too much work. However, there are some easy ways to stay connected to the important people in your life, including:

  • Phone calls
  • Video chat
  • Texting
  • Through messaging apps 

Staying in contact doesn’t have to mean hours-long conversations every week. A five-minute phone call or quick text update is all it takes to keep your support system in the loop and aware of any significant changes you experience during early recovery. You may also meet up with multiple members of your support system in person, allowing you to update them all at once.

When to Reach Out to Your Support System 

Individuals who have never had a support system before treatment may struggle to know when to reach out and get advice or assistance. If you begin to feel more anxious, stressed, depressed, or emotionally distressed by things happening in your life, you might benefit from reaching out to your support system. According to Psychiatry, “Numerous studies indicate social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological health.”

Most people reach out to their support system when they experience the following:

  • A major life change 
  • Grief or loss
  • Signs of emotional relapse
  • Ambivalence about treatment or recovery
  • Meeting a recovery goal 
  • Trauma
  • Uncertainty

You shouldn’t wait for something upsetting before you reach out to your support system. Celebrating personal or professional successes with them deepens your bond and increases positivity. You can connect with your care team throughout the month to keep them updated on how you continue to heal and grow. West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to use peer engagement and other social support to strengthen their support system and build healthier lives. 

A support system is only useful if the people in it are contacted when clients in recovery need additional support to overcome challenges or cope with symptoms. Individuals in recovery should have frequent contact with their support system to check in and ensure that everything continues to move forward. Family, friends, and other members of your support system are more likely to notice first if there are any unhealthy changes in your thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors. West Coast Recovery Centers help clients plan for aftercare and locate local community resources to support ongoing recovery. To learn more about our programs and the services we offer, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.