Socializing in Recovery

5 Effects of Social Environments on Addiction and Recovery

Addiction and recovery can feel like isolating experiences. They don’t have to be. Nearly 21 million Americans manage some kind of addiction. 

When it comes to the path of addiction (from the addiction itself to the recovery or occasional relapse), interpersonal relationships can make a big difference. The effects of social environments on the recovery process are widely documented. 

If you’re going through a recovery journey, or you have a loved one who’s ready to start that path, it’s important to understand just how crucial our social lives can be when it comes to our success.

Keep reading to learn all about the impacts of different kinds of social environments on the path to recovery.

  1. Friendships and Recovery

The friends that someone surrounds themself with can make all the difference when it comes to addiction and recovery.

When interacting with friends in which certain activities (like the overuse of drugs and alcohol) are acceptable and even encouraged, it can be a barrier for success in recovery.

A supportive friend can make the recovery process much easier. These supports must be committed to living a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle, as well as, setting healthy boundaries. 

Support from friends can be all the difference someone needs to keep from being lonely through the recovery process. 

  1. The Impact of Family

Addiction often stems from trauma. A family that contributed to this trauma can potentially hinder the recovery of the addict.

Through family counseling health boundaries on both sides can be established, which allows these relationships to heal and make the recovery process easier. 

A supportive and healthy family is great for the recovery process. It is often the family who makes the first intervention, allowing the addict to take the first steps towards getting help. 

Family support is important, especially when the person suffering from addiction is living at home. Interactions with family should be positive to allow the person in recovery to feel like they’re in a safe place. 

  1. Social Media During Recovery

Social media can be an ally in recovery, but it does have its risks and downsides.

Social media presents a “highlight reel” of life, meaning that for many people, it’s simply untrue. Someone who is suffering from mental health struggles may react poorly to the false narrative that social media can present. 

Similarly, as in traditional media, social media can glamorize habits and behaviors that are otherwise poor choices.

Social media can fuel many negative thoughts and behaviors. Those who spend too much time on social media may become isolated. They may deal with greater levels of anxiety and depression, and they may feel as if they’re missing out on what life has to offer (or FOMO). 

While social media is a great way to connect to friends and family members, it needs to be used in a healthy way to avoid any negative contributions to the addict’s mental health.  

  1. The Benefits of Group Therapy 

There’s a reason that so many addiction recovery and treatment programs encourage the use of group sessions. 

Addiction is isolating, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else is suffering in the same way that you are. Being in a group and hearing the experiences of others can help alleviate some of that isolation. 

This is also a group of supportive people all working towards a similar goal. This allows for a system of group responsibility and encouragement. While friends may be supportive, they also aren’t walking the same path as the person suffering from addiction. They also aren’t as intimately aware of the recovery process. 

  1. How the Community and Social Environment Can Harm Recovery

There are some learned behaviors that we inherit from our communities without necessarily trying to. 

When someone grows up in (or is exposed frequently to) an area or situation in which certain undesirable behaviors are commonplace, they may be more likely to partake in them. 

For example, the college experience.

College doesn’t put someone into a chosen community, but an obligated one. This community may come with certain social stereotypes and unfamiliar behaviors. 

Drinking culture on college campuses is accepted (and often encouraged). When one doesn’t participate, they may feel left out of social groups and even certain extracurricular activities (like Greek life).

Someone who is adapting to a college environment and the community may normalize drinking to fit into the crowd to avoid feelings of isolation. Unfortunately, this may lead to maladaptive behaviors associated with alcohol, which can lead to difficult consequences.

It is not always possible to avoid high risk situations. Sometimes the workplace or campus setting, or even being out in public may place someone into drug or alcohol using situations.

Recovery programs help addicts form healthy boundaries and recovery tools that allow them to first avoid then cope with temptations inherent in these high risk situations. 

There Are Many Positive and Negative Effects of Social Environments on Addiction 

While in recovery, people will begin establishing health healthy relationships that will assist in difficult social situations, while avoiding those that can cause harm. The effects of social environments on addiction can be helpful or harmful to the recovery process, so it’s important to be aware of them. 

To start your recovery journey, or to learn more, visit our site. Take the first step towards a healthier life. 

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