The Importance of a Recovery Community

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For many people, leaving treatment presents a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. One way to face these obstacles is to get involved with a recovery community. A recovery community gives people the opportunity to connect with others who have shared experiences and helps them build connections with one another.

Marty Cook, director of alumni events for Gateway Foundation, started a recovery community in the northern suburbs and continues growing that community in his role at Gateway.

“I’ve had the great fortune of seeing people who didn’t know each other come to events, get to know each other, and they’re best friends,” Cook says. “They go to 12 Step meetings together, they work out, they study together, and they support each other. But that’s not possible if there’s not a concerted effort by recovery groups or hospitals to add that extra layer of support for them.”

For younger generations, finding a support system may be even more challenging. Cook offers some insight into why a recovery community is critical for this age group.

“People get sicker sooner now,” Cook says. “Even 10, 20 years ago, people would maybe get into treatment in their 30s, 40s, or 50s, but they’re coming in in their 20s now and when you’re in your 20s, most of your friends are out on weekends, there’s not a spouse, kids, so what do you got? The social network you used to have is kind of cut off because it’s built around parties and bars and alcohol and drugs, etc.”

Following treatment, many young people feel there is nothing to do without alcohol or drugs, especially on the weekends. This can cause some people to isolate themselves and lose human connections and interactions, which can be detrimental to mental health; others may fall back into the same crowd of friends as before and start drinking or using drugs once again.

Although Gateway’s recovery events are usually open to all ages, the focus on young adults for some of these events, like the recent Chicago social on May 5, aim to connect young adults beyond specific treatment sites and beyond Gateway. Gateway’s recovery community has monthly socials in addition to a variety of other events that occur throughout the week as well as on weekends. The Lake Villa social takes place the first Saturday of every month and the Chicago social takes place every third Saturday of the month. To keep up with all recovery events, like us on Facebook and check out our event calendar.

Gateway’s recovery community is open to anyone in recovery.

“We’re not just saying ‘alumni,’ we’re saying if anybody is in recovery, come to our events. Because their experience could help us, just as our alumni can benefit from them,” Cook says. “Everybody wins.”

If you or someone you know would like to get involved with Gateway’s recovery community, please email Marty Cook at MrCook@GatewayFoundation.org.

 

 

9 Tips to Encourage Your Valentine to “Lean In” to Addiction Recovery

iStock_000008811652MediumIn honor of Valentine’s Day, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment reminds couples that selfless act of love can rekindle a sense of purpose in their Valentines. Without a doubt, the power of love can help people take the first step in overcoming alcoholism and/or drug addiction.

“An act of concern and support may arouse a renewed sense of personal power in others, which changes their perspective from ‘feeling forced’ or powerless to change to ‘feeling confident’ or capable of change,” explains John Larson M.D., Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Building self-confidence and sense of purpose in your Valentine requires genuine respect and judgment-free affection from reliable “agents of change.” To help encourage an open approach versus a confrontation about substance abuse concerns, Gateway offers nine tips:

  1. Get smart about effects of alcoholism and drug abuse as well as potential treatment options to help facilitate a productive discussion.

  2. Timing is extremely important. Choose a time when your Valentine is sober and the mood is calm.

  3.  Set a caring and supportive tone for the conversation–anything less may backfire.
    – “You haven’t seemed to be yourself lately. Is everything okay?”
    – “What can I do to help the situation?”
  4. Use open-ended questions to draw out underlying feelings.
    – “It’s not uncommon for people to drink alcohol to try to appease their tough thoughts and feelings. What are some memories and feelings that trigger drinking?”
  5.  Talk less, listen more. Listen and respect everything your Valentine has to say, and resist interrupting.
    – “What are some of the things that make you happy when you’re not drinking?”
    – “What are some of the not-so-good things about drinking?”
  6. Use affirming statements to demonstrate understanding and to validate a loved one’s feelings. Validating a person’s feelings—no matter what he or she has to say—can help encourage self-guided change.
    – “You are under a tremendous amount of pressure so it’s no wonder you feel so overwhelmed.”
    – “That must have been devastating. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
  7. Take with a grain of salt any accusations of blame or verbal abuse, and refrain from engaging in arguments.
    – “I understand this isn’t easy to talk about so I’m going to let that one go.”
  8. Substance abuse rattles one’s self esteem so be sure to express he or she deserves better, and is capable of achieving whatever change is desired.
    – “I’m not giving up on you. You are the most amazing person I know.”
  9.  If shut down, don’t take it personal. Rather, just listen and try to withhold frustration or it may be more difficult for him or her to open up later.

“Planting the seeds of recovery from addiction is a delicate balancing act requiring patience and unconditional love but it’s not impossible,” says Larson.

For more insights and tips about helping a person take on addiction issues, download Gateway’s Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse at RecoveryGateway.org/Roadmap.

Another Helpful Article: “What To Do When a Loved One Has a Substance Abuse Problem?”

Editors Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness February 2016.
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