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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Power of Friendship in Recovery

A Healing Connection 

Research has shown that friendships are integral to our happiness, health, and fulfillment as humans. This is especially true during the recovery journey, which is full of its own peaks and valleys. Having supportive friends throughout the process can lead to encouragement, joy, accountability, and a helping hand when life is difficult. 

Recovery includes establishing healthy patterns and leaving behind maladaptive behaviors. As you embark on this path, it’s critical to surround yourself with supportive, empathic, and understanding people -- people who are aware of, and willing to support you as a person in recovery. 

Committing to sobriety is no easy task, and the encouragement and joy that healthy friendships bring can make sober living that much sweeter.

Benefits of Friendship

Healthy friendships are an essential and critical aspect of our wellness. Studies have shown that there is an association between strong friendships and increased happiness, self-esteem, fulfillment, and sense of purpose. In addition to the emotional benefits, friendship can have a positive impact on our physical health, too! 

Physical benefits

Establishing and maintaining a close connection with others has shown to correlate with living a healthier life. People who nurture strong friendships tend to live longer, recover from illnesses faster, and have lower blood pressure. 

Emotional benefits 

Cultivating a close circle of friends provides valuable emotional and personal qualities and traits. Friendships can help sharpen your social skills, inspire you to reach your goals,  introduce you to new hobbies, and expand your perspective. They can help you define your priorities, hold you accountable, support you through difficulties, and be a source of fun and laughter! 

Friends allow us to combat loneliness, which research has shown to have negative consequences on our well-being. Loneliness can affect our cardiovascular and immune health, particularly as we grow older, which is why creating a community of friends is so important. 

Why Are Friendships in Recovery Important?

It’s clear that friendships are a crucial component of health and fulfillment for everyone. But they are even more important for those who are in recovery

It can be difficult to decide which friendships are beneficial to maintain while living sober, especially those friends that were made while in the height of addiction. The foundation of those friendships was most likely not rooted in connection or depth but rather centered around using substances. Choosing whether to maintain these friendships is a challenging decision, as these friends could be a temptation or distraction for your recovery. 

However, creating new friendships or repairing old friendships provides a sense of support -- not only when it comes to your sobriety, but also in supporting your feelings of confidence, resiliency, and strength as a human being. It’s so important to have this positive community to walk alongside during recovery, as you continue to grow in your identity and re-discover who you are. 

Tips to Have Healthy Friendships in Recovery

  • Avoid old hangouts that could tempt you to begin using again. The Haven offers residential treatment and transitional living to support you in detaching from negative influences and replacing them with positive people and environments. 
  • Find activities that you are interested in. This is a great way to meet new people in a sober environment. Whether you join a sports team, a club, take classes, or volunteer at a local organization, find something you are passionate about that allows you to continue developing yourself while creating a supportive community. 
  • Be honest and authentic. Genuinely communicate with your friends about your struggles and needs. Vulnerability and transparency are difficult, but being honest is a way to develop mutual trust and empathy in meaningful friendships. 
  • Prioritize friends that support your sobriety. Reflect on the values you are looking for in a friendship, and ensure that supporting your recovery is a part of that. 
  • Be a good friend! Friendship is a two-way street, and both people must be committed to the energy and effort required in maintaining the relationship. Ensure that you are being a good friend, too. 
  • Self-care. Continue to work on your own triggers, trauma, and self-concept through therapy and self-reflection. 

Finding Lasting Friendships at The Haven at Pismo

As you walk through recovery and explore finding your new sense of self, committing to cultivating friendships and a supportive community is a beneficial practice to integrate into your life.