While pursuing recovery, the importance of accountability cannot be emphasized enough. When you leave the safety net of treatment, you lose significant sources of support from staff and the people in treatment with you. Upon leaving treatment, you need to be intentional about seeking support. Not only must you seek support, but you must seek positive support, which means you must find the right people and groups to bolster your recovery.
Understand that finding the perfect support system takes time. When you are early in recovery, having a support system helps you avoid relapse and cope with potential triggers. The support system can include a sponsor, friends who support your recovery, and family members who are rooting for your success. Your support system should not include potential triggers or people who want to see you fail. There are people who want to see you fail or who will belittle your recovery and make relapse more difficult to avoid. Avoiding people who are not a good source of support will only improve your recovery success.
Within the first 18 months of recovery, the possibility of relapse is increased. Because of the increased possibility of relapse, having a solid support system is vital. There are multiple risks for relapse, but three issues create a greater possibility of relapse.
3 Major Risks for Relapse
#1. Lack of Positive Social Network
There is a structure in the brain that is responsible for the likelihood of drug-seeking behavior. This structure is called the striatum. When you have limited social support, the striatum needs something to feed upon and compulsive behaviors are more likely to occur. When fed with real social interactions, not surface level from small talk or comparing on social media, you are better able to cope with urges for compulsive behaviors.
Having a strong social network, including a sponsor, other people in recovery, family, and friends boosts your ability to recover. Having a strong support system limits the possibility of relapse and improves your whole health.
#2. Being Unaware of Potential Pitfalls
The beauty of having a sponsor is having someone on your side who has experience with navigating triggers and problems in recovery. Your sponsor knows very well how quickly and easily relapse can happen in the first year of recovery. A sponsor holds you accountable and is available when you are struggling. This accountability helps you succeed.
The stigma of mental illness is common, and even more common is the stigma of people who struggle with the abuse of alcohol or other substances. Facing this stigma alone makes recovery incredibly difficult. Hearing that persons with substance use issues are unlikely or unwilling to get better is defeating. Having a group of people around you to remind you that recovery is possible and that you are not alone will help you combat the stigma found in most of society. Also, your support system will ensure that you do not allow the stigma to push you into relapse.
Having accountability is not just about support for the everyday, but also support for those days when you would rather use alcohol or other substances to deal with problems. Relapse remains a significant problem after leaving treatment for the first 12-18 months of recovery. It can still happen after that time frame, as well. Remember, recovery does not occur in a straight line; the road is curvy and full of potholes. The benefit of having accountability is helping you avoid those potholes and navigate the curves of your road to recovery.
The Value of Support Systems
The importance of a sponsor and your own network of friends and family is not to be undervalued. However, another vital support system for recovery from alcohol and other substance use is a 12-Step meeting. A 12-Step program provides you with resources in both people and written materials to maintain your recovery. Also, a meeting is available on any day. When you leave treatment, an adage is often to attend 90 meetings in 90 days to ensure you get the necessary support for those beginning months.
The meetings also ensure your ability to find a home group and a sponsor with whom you feel comfortable enough to share your issues in recovery. Also, in a home group, you will find an excellent source of support and community. The ability to share in this group promotes accountability to yourself and others. Also, in these groups, you will be helping others stay accountable.
Going back to the idea of brain structure: when you are helping others and giving back, you are helping yourself heal and ensuring your own ability to avoid a relapse into old behaviors. Having a strong network of social support and accountability ensures your health and recovery.
Leaving treatment means leaving behind your major sources of support in that setting. Rebuilding support systems outside of treatment is the most important step to continued success in recovery. Renaissance Ranch understands the importance of a strong social network and building a support system to help you avoid relapse in your recovery from substance use disorder. Using a clinically driven and gospel-centered approach, we offer treatment for all stages of recovery, including outpatient support and sober living. When you leave treatment, the first 18 months are critical to your success. Finding a meeting and sponsor to support you and help you navigate your recovery is important. If you or someone you know needs support at any stage in the recovery process, reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 to get the additional support you might need in your recovery. You do not have to battle recovery alone.