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Support Systems in Addiction Recovery

Table of Contents

When it comes to recovering from addiction, having a strong support system can make all the difference. In fact, studies have shown that individuals with a strong support system are more likely to maintain their sobriety and have better long-term outcomes.

In this article, we’ll explore the significance of support systems in recovery, the different types of peer support groups available, and how to build and maintain a strong support system. Whether you’re someone in recovery, a loved one of someone struggling with addiction, or just curious about the topic, this article will give you valuable insights and information.

What is a Support System?

A support system is a community of people who provides you with practical or emotional support. In the context of addiction treatment, a support system is a group of people who actively listens and gives you encouragement to motivate you to continue your recovery process. 

Support systems can take many forms. Your support system can consist of your family members, close friends, and others you trust and have confidence in.

Aside from family and friends, there are also many other resources available. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can provide a sense of community and understanding. Therapists and counselors can offer guidance and assistance through individual or group therapy sessions.

You can also join a recovery group comprised of peers who are also dealing with substance abuse or are recovering from an addiction.

How Support Systems Can Help

A person in recovery requires a strong network of people and resources to rely on, especially in early recovery. Substance use disorder makes a person feel helpless and unloved, exacerbating their sense of isolation. For this reason, the emotional support, understanding, and belongingness that come from having a support system are invaluable.

At the same time, support systems can also provide practical help. For example, your loved ones can assist with getting you to and from appointments at rehab, help with household tasks, and offer financial sponsorship if needed. These types of practical assistance can help reduce stress and allow you to focus on your rehab.

Research shows that social support can lead to better outcomes in addiction recovery. What this means is that individuals with social support were more likely to complete their treatment program and have lower rates of relapse.

Peer support is also invaluable for people with serious substance use disorders or any other disorder. Research suggests that receiving nonprofessional, nonclinical assistance from individuals with similar conditions or circumstances can reduce substance use and improve overall well-being.

Talking to other people who may have the same experience may help you view life from a different lens. 

There are no costs required to join most recovery groups. Most do not require one to be of a certain age or education to be part of their meetings. People willing to listen and share their drinking problems are encouraged to join. 

Do note that building a support system takes time and effort. It may take some trial and error to find the right resources and people who can offer the right kind of resources you need. However, the benefits of having a strong support system in place are well worth the effort.

What does recovery support mean?

When people talk about “recovery support,” they’re referring to the resources and tools a person can access to help them recover from their alcohol or drug abuse. This can take many different forms, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Often, this term refers to nonprofessional, nonclinical assistance from individuals with similar conditions or circumstances to achieve long-term recovery from psychiatric, alcohol, and/or other related problems.

Examples can include:

  • Emotional support. This is a crucial component of recovery support and can come from various relationships such as family members, friends, support groups, or peer mentors. This type of support can include listening, offering encouragement, and providing a sense of understanding and connection.
  • Practical assistance. This can include help with transportation, child care, household tasks, and financial assistance. Practical assistance can help reduce stress and allow individuals to focus on their recovery journey.
  • Professional help. Having access to professional help is also an important component of recovery support. This can include therapy, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and other forms of medical care necessary for an addiction treatment program. Professional treatment centers can provide guidance, support, and treatment options to help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety.
  • Safe space. When it comes to discussing issues of addiction and sobriety, some people may feel more comfortable opening up in a safe setting where they won’t be judged for their words or actions. This can include support groups, peer mentoring programs, and recovery-focused communities such as sober living homes that provide a welcoming and inclusive space for them. A peaceful environment can help individuals feel supported, heard, and understood as they navigate the challenges of addiction recovery.

Importance of Support in the Recovery Process

While it is true that you can recover on your own, it is faster and more enjoyable with the help of a support system. 

Below are some of the reasons why having a healthy support system is vital for a recovering addict:

Facing challenges isn’t as difficult

Recovery can be a bumpy road, and there will be obstacles along the way. But with the support of relatives, friends, and support group members, individuals in recovery can feel less alone and more equipped to tackle these challenges.

Friends help lower anxiety in social situations

Many individuals in recovery may struggle with social anxiety or feelings of nervousness and worry in social situations. Social anxiety can often affect your willingness to receive addiction treatment. Having supportive family members and close friends who understand and accept your journey can make these situations less intimidating and your feelings more manageable.

It is also useful to have sober activities with peers to help with social anxiety.

Family and friends keep you in check

Recovering from alcohol and drug abuse is a process that requires commitment and consistency, and having a support system can help recovering addicts stay accountable and focused on their goals.

During the recovery stage, your family member, community member, and friends play a vital role in supporting you to have a successful change.

The fact is, your loved ones have a massive impact on your decision to stay sober. Having them check on your progress occasionally helps prevent behaviors that may lead to a relapse. They can remind you to take your meds, set healthy boundaries, and serve as a distraction when you need it the most.

You have your own personal cheering section

An important role that members of your support system play in your life is exhibiting strong faith in your journey. They believe that you are capable of change, so they encourage you to continue taking steps to sobriety. They join you in celebrating achievements you’ve made in the course of healing. 

The road to sobriety can be long and difficult, and it can be incredibly motivating to have people who believe in you and assist you along the way.

Your confidence and self-esteem grow

Having a support system of people who believe in you can do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.

Having people who accept and support you can help you feel more confident in yourself and your ability to overcome challenges. You may begin to see yourself in a different light and look forward to your new life with a sense of hope and possibility.

Steps to Building a Solid Support System During Addiction Recovery

Building a support system is essential to a successful addiction recovery.

Here are some steps that can help you build a strong support system during addiction recovery:

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Support systems are there to help you get back to your normal routine, but without you, it would do so little. 

Admitting that you need help by asking questions will allow them to have a better picture of your needs. Let them know what else they can do for you while you are recovering so that it is easier and faster to achieve success. 

Remember that you don’t need to be alone while you’re recovering. Asking for help is not something to be ashamed of. It’s normal and perfectly alright to seek support from the people around you.

Determine What You Want From Your Support and Get Rid of Any Baggage

Start by asking yourself what you want from your support system and being honest with yourself. 

Are you looking to be guided? Do you want someone to listen to your concerns and provide feedback? Do you need concrete, no-nonsense advice? Or is there a specific question that’s been giving you pause? 

Don’t worry about rambling or stroking your ego — they’re just going to help you clarify what you really want out of the conversation.

Attend Regular Recovery and Support Meetings

one of the most crucial steps in getting clean and sober is attending regular recovery and support meetings. 

These meetings will provide you with the opportunity to talk about your addiction with people who have similar experiences, goals, and challenges.

Committing to the recovery process is only half the battle; the other half is dedicating yourself to betterment. Confronting those who have been where you are can serve as an invaluable mentor.

Don’t Get Into Any New Relationships or Life-Altering Careers

If you’re trying to figure out if you’re ready for new relationships or career paths, this is the stage to exercise caution. 

Resist the temptation for quick fixes like trying a new career, moving to a new city, or starting a romantic relationship. 

Engaging in a new relationship or a career can alter your energy flow during the recovery process. Meeting new people also comes with the risk of potential influence to start drinking or using drugs, or taking substances that you need to avoid.

Be Patient and Allow Time to Run Its Course

Allowing time to run its course is one of the key elements of a solid and healthy support system. In some cases, it takes weeks, months, and sometimes even years before you can see results from a strong support system. You have to be patient and allow time for the outcome or change that you desire to occur.

Alternative Recovery Programs

Recovery support groups are not limited to just substance abuse, there are other prominent groups that you can join depending on your needs.

You may consider the list below according to your own preference: 

  • SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery. SMART introduces a self-empowering way to recover from substance use. Through the use of online platforms and even in-person meetings, its science-backed method is accessible to people who want their life to change. This support group focus on the coping skills that an individual should learn to overcome addiction. 
  • LifeRing Alcoholism Recovery Program believes that you are most capable of knowing what you need and what to be abandoned. They have local in-person meetings, online meetings, other online resources, and a variety of publications to help you stay away from addiction. You are the key point here since you will be the one to design your own program. 
  • Women for Sobriety. If you are a woman and seek a support group composed of only women, then you might want to try this out. They are an abstinence-based, self-help program for women overcoming challenges with alcohol and other drug use. This group focuses more on self-value and self-worth and eliminating the thoughts of guilt, shame, and humiliation.

Find Support in NuView Treatment Center

At NuView Treatment Center, we understand that the recovery journey can be challenging and that finding the right support system is crucial for success. Our addiction treatment programs are designed to provide comprehensive and evidence-based care to individuals struggling with substance use disorders and mental health issues.

We offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs, utilizing various therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and trauma-informed care. Our goal is to help you develop the necessary skills and tools to maintain long-term sobriety and achieve a fulfilling life in rehab.

Our team of experienced professionals includes licensed therapists, doctors, and nurses who are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective care. We also offer support groups and community resources to help you build a strong social network and find the encouragement you need to continue your journey.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact NuView today to learn more about our Los Angeles drug rehab outpatient programs and find the support you need to start your journey to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The 3 Ps of recovery can vary depending on the source and the context.

One common set of 3 Ps in recovery is “Power, Purpose, and Passion,” which refers to the power to change, find one’s purpose in life and pursue it with passion.

Another set of 3 Ps is “Patience, Perseverance, and Practice,” which highlights the need for patience and perseverance in recovery and the importance of regular practice to develop new habits and coping mechanisms.

There are different answers to this question because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Different people and organizations may prioritize different aspects of the recovery process.

Ultimately, the most important thing is for individuals to find a support system and treatment plan that works for them and meets their unique needs.

The 5 components of recovery are self-direction, individualized treatment, holistic approach, peer support, and hope.

  • Self-Direction refers to the individual’s ability to take charge of their own recovery journey, making choices and decisions that align with their personal values and goals.
  • Individualized Treatment recognizes that each person’s path to recovery is unique and should be tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
  • Holistic Approach emphasizes the importance of treating the whole person, addressing all aspects of their physical, emotional, and social well-being.
  • Peer Support recognizes the value of support and guidance from others with lived experience of mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Hope refers to the belief that recovery is possible and that individuals can achieve a fulfilling life beyond their condition.

Support groups can help people in recovery, but they’re not meant to replace 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) (NA). 12-step programs are based on a set of rules and traditions that give people who are trying to get better structure, support, and direction.

A support group can help people feel like they are part of a community and understood, but 12-step programs have helped many people on their way to recovery. People in recovery should work with their treatment team to figure out which method will work best for them.


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Book, S. W., Thomas, S. E., Dempsey, J. P., Randall, P. K., & Randall, C. L. (2009). Social anxiety impacts willingness to participate in addiction treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 34(5), 474-476.

Ellis, B., Bernichon, T., Yu, P., Roberts, T., & Herrell, J. M. (2004). Effect of social support on substance abuse relapse in a residential treatment setting for women. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27(2), 213-221.

Gruber, K. J., & Taylor, M. F. (2006). A Family Perspective for Substance Abuse: Implications from the Literature. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 6(1-2), 1–29.

Kelly, S. M., O’Grady, K. E., Schwartz, R. P., Peterson, J. A., Wilson, M. E., & Brown, B. S. (2010). The relationship of social support to treatment entry and engagement: the Community Assessment Inventory. Substance abuse, 31(1), 43–52.

Lookatch, S. J., Wimberly, A. S., & McKay, J. R. (2019). Effects of social support and 12-Step involvement on recovery among people in continuing care for cocaine dependence. Substance use & misuse, 54(13), 2144.

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Support system. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from,support%20system,with%20practical%20or%20emotional%20support 

Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 7, 143-154.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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