The Importance of Connection in Addiction Recovery
Connection with the world, with ourselves and with like-minded others is so important in addiction recovery.
Let's face it, active addiction isn't helpful to any of us in any respect, let alone socially. Often, the only connection we would have felt during times of drug and alcohol use would have been to the vodka, the cocaine, the addictive prescription pills, the gambler's high and such like.
In fact, for many of us, active addiction would have enabled complete disconnection - from people, feelings, thoughts, newsfeeds, world calamities, commitments and expectations.
Addictions empty promises
At the start of any addiction, a substance would have actually helped us to feel more connected. Hence why we went back for more, and more, and then... we had little or no choice. Addiction hooks us in with so many false promises, only to completely turn on us as it tries to destroy us and, perhaps even worse, destroy those we love.
Addiction makes our world so small.
Eventually, there is just us by ourselves and the substance, person or action we are addicted to. We end up completely disconnected from everyone and everything, even reality. It is a very lonely and dark place.
Coming into recovery can be just as challenging. All of a sudden we are asked to voice our feelings in front of others. We are expected to develop a connection with others in addiction recovery and rely on them as a support system. We are encouraged to place our trust and our deepest secrets with people we barely know.
Perhaps you may have resisted this course of action. Maybe, you still have some reservations. But the fact you are here, perhaps shows that connection is something you are willing to work at.
Here, we look at what we mean by ‘Connection’ and why, as survivors of addiction, connection is such a vital part of our ongoing and even daily recovery.
How we connect in recovery
Connection in addiction recovery can be established in many different ways and all have equal importance. Connection isn't just about making friends or intimate relationships with others. It is about trust and about building a network, a network of healthy relationships so that we can truly thrive and flourish.
Ways in which we connect in addiction recovery include:
Connecting with others in order to recover
We ask for help at the very beginning, for support and guidance. Asking for help and connecting is a terrifying prospect for any person stuck in the throes of active addiction, yet it is absolutely necessary for recovery. Swallowing our pride, fear, guilt and shame, we will have understood that addiction was ready to take us out of the game completely. That we, on our own, had no way of winning. Connecting with others in addiction recovery and asking for help would have been the only way to escape an untimely, and tragic death.
Connecting with professionals
More often than not, many of us will have needed help to heal or help with detoxification. Even during our addiction recovery journey, from time to time, we may need professional help with a newly revealed wound or blockage to our happiness and personal growth. We may need help from doctors, therapists, tutors, priests or holistic healers. Connecting with professionals is our way of saying, we don't have all the answers (who does?), so we ask someone who can help us find the answers. Someone who can assist us, guide us and treat us.
Connection with ourselves in addiction recovery
Without the guise of substances and addiction to hide behind we are forced to face the truth within. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If we are to thrive in our recovery, there is a great need to establish a connection with ourselves. We need to find the time to connect with our thoughts, our actions and our emotions on a regular basis. Connecting with ourselves and who we are is so important to our well-being. We need to connect with our mind, our body and our spirit. Asking ourselves important questions such as: How do I feel? What is my truth? What do I need? Many of you will be familiar with the head-to-heart journey.
Connecting with life
Before recovery, we would have opted out of what it truly means to live. We would have just existed. In addiction recovery, we have to connect with life, and just as importantly we need to show up for that life on a daily and ongoing basis. For the most part, we often find that the simpler our life is the happier we are. When we connect with the small things in life we sometimes feel overwhelming gratitude. How had we not even noticed these things before, let alone not appreciate them? How had we not noticed life's ‘free gifts’ like the feeling of rain on our skin, fresh air in our lungs, and the warmth and vibrancy of a sunny day? Life offers an abundance of connection. Every day is a new day and a chance to connect with something in life we had previously taken for granted.
Connecting to a purpose in addiction recovery
Active addiction has no purpose. It destroys, dictates, it takes and controls. Our only ‘purpose’ would have been to obey the compulsive demands of our addiction. In recovery, there is a need to find a purpose. This ‘purpose’ can take on a great many forms. It may be your purpose is to be a better mother, father, daughter or son; to be a better employee; to overhaul your health and lifestyle, to find and access a higher power, to evolve spiritually, to help others to recover, to simply live an honest life without harming others…...the list goes on. Purpose is what drives us and gets us up and out of bed every morning. Connection with a purpose is not only vital to our addiction recovery but also to our overall well-being.
What it means to connect
There are many ways in which to describe connection in addiction recovery. What we are looking at here, in particular, is a healthy connection. Whatever and whoever we connect with it needs to be healthy in order to nourish us and our recovery.
Sadly, in this day and age, when we mention connection, many think of their WIFI quality or business connections. That's not what we are talking about here. Here we are talking about genuine, authentic and meaningful connections.
When we “connect” with a person or a thing, we have a mutual understanding - we feel drawn and we feel empathy. Often, we feel intimacy and our brains reward us with lots of natural feel-good chemicals.
For many of us establishing healthy connections would have been a great learning curve, especially in the beginning. It would have entailed disconnection from unhealthy and eroding things. This will have meant detaching ourselves from people and things that only served to aid our addiction in some way. We may have had to completely disconnect in order to reconnect.
Connection in addiction recovery should be:
- Without judgement
- Have meaning
At times, there will be a temptation to connect with people or things that aren't good for us. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it is an opportunity for us to learn and make changes.
Being human is what recovery is all about, recognising our weaknesses, working on them to become better, and accepting the parts of us that previously we felt were unacceptable.
Each and every one of us is a unique being. This means, there is no one like you, anywhere else in the world at this time. You will have unique qualities to bring to life and to others.
The more you focus on connecting to your qualities in your addiction recovery, the less important flaws will appear. Rather than trying to eradicate something that we feel is inherently bad inside of us, instead focus on what is good, connect to that and nourish it. In doing so, we are disconnecting from what doesn't serve us. That doesn't mean it does not exist, but that we are choosing not to connect to it.
Why connection with like-minded others is important in addiction recovery
As human beings we are social creatures, we are not designed to live the life of a hermit! Even those of us who have trust issues coming into recovery can learn to trust if we open the door to possibility.
Still, connecting with life, with family, with ourselves and even connection with addiction recovery professionals is often not enough. Those of us who have been afflicted with addiction have a predisposition to feeling alone, even when we are surrounded by others.
This is perhaps because we feel misunderstood by many, and who can blame us? The general consensus amongst the general public is that those who have an addiction have a choice. We who have suffered know it is way more complex than that
Connect with Recoverlution
Connecting with like-minded others in addiction recovery is exactly what Recoverlution is about. We truly understand the importance of not feeling alone in the recovery journey. Speaking with, supporting and simply just ‘being’ with others who have faced the same internal and external struggles, already provides a common link. However, connection with others in recovery is more than just common suffering.
With like-minded others, we are able to achieve true and authentic connections, without having to explain ourselves. We just know. We get each other, providing one another with support, guidance and learning. At times we will be living our best lives as we walk the recovery journey with others like us.
Together, we are able to really belly laugh at things, things others would perhaps find distasteful or not be able to comprehend. Mutual affliction brings us together in a way that no one else can really understand. A recovery community is vital to our recovery, our well-being, our growth, our life and even our survival. This is why we have built a platform around connection to bring those of us in recovery together
- The Opposite of Addiction is Connection -https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201509/the-opposite-addiction-is-connection
- The Social Connection Theory of Addiction https://www.mentalhelp.net/addiction/social-connection-theory/