For a successful recovery after rehab, every addict goes through the process of reinventing themselves. They are faced with having to disentangle themselves from some aspects of their former life; their friends who abuse one substance or another, any other unhealthy relationships or acquaintances, some of the activities (like partying) they used to engage in, and more.

There’s also the issue of them losing the trust and support of some family members, the companionship of a lover, and other privileges they used to enjoy before everyone discovered they were an addict. This can incite a sense of loss which is devastating enough to push them into a relapse.

This is a major reason why ongoing support is essential during addiction recovery –  to fill the vacuum, to provide the much-needed love and encouragement that will see recovering addicts through their journey. Therefore, if you are a recovering addict and are considering building a support network, here are some tips that can help you build one that is strong and healthy.

Educate people

For someone to properly help you, you need to first make them understand what you need. Do your research and combine the result with what you learnt in rehab. Then use that to educate your family and friends about your predicament and how they can help.

People typically stigmatise and discriminate when they don’t fully understand a problem. It’s your job to help them understand. Sit them down and have a deep conversation with them about substance abuse and the treatment, about your efforts towards recovery, about how you feel (apologise for any wrong doing), and about how they can help you recover.

If possible, refer them to a good website or book on addiction recovery, or even to a professional who can help them to understand addiction recovery and how they can help you.

Exercise some patience

Wounds don’t heal in a day, and even when they have healed, they leave lasting scars. Some of your good friends and family may not come around immediately. Know that that’s okay, for when you pulled away, deceived them, or betrayed their trust during your addiction, you wounded them emotionally and they may need time to heal before warming up to you and supporting you through your recovery.

Be accountable

When you ask your friends and family for help with your recovery, you have in a way made yourself their responsibility. That means that they will call, text, and email you from time to time. Make sure you always answer. They will even visit often if you don’t live together. They will want to know how you are faring and to make sure that you are attending your counselling and support group meetings. They would want to know who your friends are. They would even want to help you clear away anything that might make you relapse.

Don’t take offense. Instead enjoy the fact that you have people that care about you.

Provide feedback

There is no doubt that these people you have run to for help will sometimes do some things you don’t like. But then there’s also no doubt that they will do many things you like, things that help your recovery. Always give feedback. Communication is essential to the health of any relationship.

Always thank them when they do something nice for you. If there’s something you don’t like, sit down and have a polite discussion with them, explaining what it is you don’t like. Chances are that they did it with good intentions.

Recovery (whether from addiction or regular health problems) is not meant to be a lonely road. That’s why people visit their loved ones in the hospital, to stay with them, assure them that they are not alone and try to make their recovery as comfortable and happy as it can be. Never hold back. Reach out to friends and family and ask for support.


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