Graduating from an addiction treatment program can be a very liberating experience. You can finally apply everything you’ve learned, all that you’ve accomplished, to life and take on the world once again. The ball is now back in your court.
While this next chapter is exciting, many recovering individuals are intimidated by the idea of re-entering reality. Upon completing addiction treatment, you may feel unnerved in regaining complete control of your life, your decisions, and of how your future will pan out. But you do not have to juggle everything at once; recovery is a journey and you are not alone in it. This is where a team comes in: a support network that respects both you and your choice to live sober. You are the captain of this team and you get to choose who will be on it.
Building a strong sober network is one of the most essential components to a successful recovery. By establishing sober connections throughout the entirety of your treatment program, you gain numerous opportunities to develop friend groups with people who can relate to you most at this stage of your life. They understand what you are going through, and what you hope to do moving forward. By supporting your values and your goals, these friends are the ones that will help you confidently transition into the world once again.
Because the fact is, the real world is ripe with temptations—ones that often stem from drug-using memories with old friends in old social scenes. Returning home after treatment inevitably carries the risk of outside influences, and the pressures to become a part of “the crowd” once again may feel unbearably heavy. If you’ve completed treatment, though, you know that using drugs to cope is no solution. Instead, you decide to call on friends to help lighten the load.
A recent survey of Alcoholics Anonymous members recorded that 72 percent of participants stayed sober at least 90 days when they had abstinent friends supporting their recovery. Of AA members solely with substance-using friends, only 33 percent stayed sober this long.
The benefits of a sober network are undeniable:
• Friends in recovery can replace the substance-using friends you may have lost contact with in the past. They can also mitigate any negative influences that substance-using friends may have on you moving forward.
• By connecting with a sponsor and other individuals who have completed treatment, you will be offered great advice and tips on how to avoid relapse. You can share personal experiences, and feed off of one another’s hope and success of sobriety.
• Within a sober network, you are given the opportunity to redevelop sober social skills. You relearn how to communicate with others, and practice forming relationships once again. For those carrying guilt or shame in their addiction, this can be the most daunting part of all.
• Above all, a sober network can show you firsthand that recovery is possible. Your sober friends are living proof, and to them, so are you. You are each other’s role models, and can inspire one another to keep moving forward.
Forming a sober network, however, can be a challenge in the beginning of recovery. That is why, as a Phase I client at Turnbridge, you are required to attend 12-step meetings daily… starting from the day you arrive. You will be asked to attain five phone numbers per week in these meetings, to begin building your network. From that very moment you walk in the door, you are exposed to others fighting this same cycle of addiction. The best thing you can do is to take advantage of that, to keep an open mind and to be open with those around you.
Because recovery is largely reliant on a sober network, our mission at Turnbridge is to make this support obtainable. In our residential drug treatment program, young men are able to live among others their age, in close proximity, with constant opportunities to expand their relationships. We want each individual in our program to see that he is not alone, that there are others he can relate to, and that sober living can be enjoyable after all. Most of the young men at Turnbridge share common interests, and our goal is to spin these interests into active realities for them. Each season, we offer various opportunities for everyone to get involved—from a softball league with other local rehabilitation programs in the spring, to ski/snowboard trips in the winter, Turnbridgeclients are able to build relationships with others in recovery through sober activities.
The long-lasting relationships formed in recovery are one of the greatest gifts of sobriety. At Turnbridge, it is these bonds that serve as constant reminders of the promise of recovery, and the journey that accompanies it. And it doesn’t end upon graduation. The sober networks established within our residencies only continue to thrive upon leaving treatment. Many of our clients go on to become sponsors for young men just starting their network, while others move forward as roommates after their time in New Haven. No matter the circumstance, we strongly believe that the friendships built here at some of the most rewarding ones of all. Founded on mutual understanding and support, these friends become more than clients, more than a network, and even more than a team. In the end, they become family.