Community, for many, is one of the most important aspects of the addiction recovery process. However, this aspect of the recovery process is often overlooked when addiction recovery is discussed. Although it is the individual who must make the decision to get clean and sober on his or her own, it is the concept of and involvement in communities that will help to support and bolster success for most. Certainly, some individuals do manage to break free from addiction on their own, but most others recognize that it takes a village to truly be successful in both the short and long term.
Individual and independent resolve and dedication are crucial for success in recovery. Community, though, is an outside factor that makes both of those factors possible.
What exactly is community? Why is it so important to human beings? How does it help individuals on the recovery path to success where they otherwise might fail? Read on to learn more.
What is Community?
People have been living together for millions of years. Although there are exceptions, most people enjoy being around other people. “No man is an island” is a common and well-known quote that reminds us that we are all connected in a vast variety of different ways.
The dictionary defines community as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” While this was true for a long time, today, thanks to technology, community does not necessarily mean that the connected individuals live in close proximity to one another. Instead, a second, more modern definition is more accurate. A community can also be defined as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
Community is everywhere in the human experience. Each of us is a part of several different communities at any given time and throughout our days. We exist in family and friend groups that can be described as small communities. We have work, school, and church communities. Based on our interests, we may also be a part of a community that surrounds a sports team or other activity like a hobby group. Communities are everywhere.
Why Is Community Important?
Communities are important for many reasons, but the main one is simple: people need people. Communities remind us that we are not alone in this great big world. We turn to other members of our communities for camaraderie, support, and advice, and for assistance in handling tasks too large to take on alone.
Being a part of a community gives us a sense of togetherness, which is something almost all humans crave. It allows us to cooperate with others and to share our knowledge and to foster our own individual growth. Communities are safe spaces in which we can be ourselves and in which we can feel comfortable with who we are and in which we can strive to be the people we want to be. We can learn from others and make connections in communities, too.
How Does Community Manifest in Addiction Recovery?
Community is very evident throughout the addiction recovery process. As soon as someone admits that he or she has a problem and that he or she wishes to seek help for it, community rallies around him or her. The entire basis of successful addiction recovery comes down to community. A group of doctors and therapists comes together to help the individual for starters.
As the process continues, the recovery community for that individual grows. Through support groups and therapy groups, the individual begins to connect with others who have experienced many of the same things. An overall and general connection with others in recovery develops quickly and this connection goes even far above and beyond connections formed among people in the same rehabilitation program; all people who get clean and sober tend to feel a deep and intense connection with all others who have been through the addiction recovery process.
Why is Community a Vital Aspect of Recovery?
Every person that is addicted to drugs or alcohol or is in recovery for one or both understands that their actions as a drug and alcohol user affect other people in their lives. No one that is victim to drug and alcohol abuse abuses these substances in isolation; sadly, the people who love them suffer right along with them.
However, on the flip side, this works the other way too. Anyone who is working on his or her recovery has the ability to help others around him or her by setting a good example and by offering support in any way that he or she can.
It is because of these facts that the concept of community is so vital in recovery.
Many people who attend or lead support groups are at a point where they no longer need to attend regularly to support their own recovery, but it is through their attendance that other, newer individuals trying to break free from their own addictive behaviors receive support and gain strength.
The support and togetherness of not only group therapy and support groups, but the overall community of which those in recovery automatically become a part is something that keeps the entire recovery machine moving forward. These groups and the entire community becomes a safe space for everyone on their recovery journeys. Mentoring occurs both naturally and by design in the recovery community through sponsorship relationships and that further bolsters the strength of the community overall. Positive peer pressure helps to keep people on the right track moving forward, and resources in both the online and offline community give people a place to turn no matter where they find themselves when triggered.
The social model of recovery works and it has continued to work for decades. It is through community that so many people have been able to achieve recovery success since the beginnings of addiction recovery in general.
People need people and people depend on people in all aspects of life. It only makes sense that this very basic human need is the cornerstone of recovery for so many. Again, although breaking free from addiction is an individual decision that must be made by the person who is suffering, it is community that allows addiction recovery to work, blossom and thrive. Recovery without community is difficult if not impossible, and it reminds individuals in recovery that all parts of the whole are stronger as a united front.
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