Environmental Supports for Recovery
When an individual struggles with addiction, it can feel like they are fighting an uphill battle alone. Addiction can take over many aspects of your life, including relationships, work and school performance, health, and more. Thankfully, there are many ways that can give you enough supports for recovery from the people and places in your environment. This means that you don’t have to fight addiction alone; there are numerous friends and loved ones who will help you overcome this struggle if you let them. The following list identifies some of the best ways in which your environment can support your recovery from addiction.
Recovery doesn’t only happen in your home or at work, but also where you spend your time when you aren’t working or sleeping. By ensuring that your environment supports for recovery, you can take advantage of all the opportunities’ life has to offer, without having to worry about relapsing or falling back into old habits that kept you from living a satisfying life before your recovery began. Learn how to make the most of your environment so that it helps you recover and grow into the person you want to be, rather than holding you back from meeting your full potential.
Create safe spaces
As a recovering addict, you have to create safe spaces for yourself. Whether that means steering clear of certain people or avoiding situations where you know drugs or alcohol are present is up to you. Make a commitment to remain sober and stick with it, even if it means disappointing people. If your family and friends aren’t giving enough supports for recovery during your recovery journey, reach out to your 12-step program’s service office for guidance and recommendations on reaching out to other individuals who can support you during your journey through recovery.
This might be one of those times when being alone is actually better than being surrounded by toxic influences. It may feel lonely at first, but after some time passes, you will find that being alone has its own unique set of benefits. You get to focus on rebuilding your life without outside distractions and influences; there’s no one around to keep you from doing what you need to do or talking about what they want to talk about—you get back controlling your life and can start living it on your terms again.
The simplest way to make your environment get more supports for recovery is to remove triggers for your addiction. If you have a substance abuse problem, it’s essential that you cut off access to alcohol and drugs. For food addicts, try taking all junk food out of your house and replacing it with healthy options (if you sense that it). It can also be helpful to quit bad habits like smoking or using social media excessively. You might find it easier to abstain from these things when they aren’t around.
In addition, get rid of anything else that will pull you away from your goals—it may sound silly, but I was once told by a recovering alcoholic to get rid of my running shoes to be because he found himself being pulled outside at night when he should have been sleeping. His point was that if he couldn’t run, then running shoes were just another trigger for him—they were calling his name every time he passed them by. So, I threw them away.
Change your routine
Routines are important to your recovery. For example, if you’re a morning person, and you always hit snooze on your alarm clock, even when you don’t need more sleep, try setting it for an earlier time. Every time you hit a snooze, your body becomes accustomed to waking up later and later, causing a vicious cycle. But once you break that routine by forcing yourself out of bed at 6:00 am, it will be easier to wake up at that time than before. The same goes for getting into bed at night—if you have trouble falling asleep at 10:00 pm every night, set your phone or computer to turn off an hour earlier each day until you reach 9:00 pm (or whatever works best).
You may find that after breaking these routines a few times, they become much easier. This can apply to all sorts of habits—from eating dinner with friends to playing video games. All habits can be broken and replaced with new ones if you give them enough time. It takes patience, but it’s worth it! And keep in mind that it’s not about thoroughly changing everything about your life overnight; simply making small changes can make a big difference over time.
Appointments & Accountability: Having someone hold you accountable is one of the most effective ways to stay on track with sobriety. Whether it’s having a sponsor or going to meetings, there are countless people who want nothing more than for you to succeed and will help motivate you along the way. It’s important to find an accountability partner that fits your personality—you would rather not feel like you have no say in what happens—but finding someone who understands your struggles can be invaluable.
Appointments can also be helpful if they aren’t too frequent.
It is often easier to be vulnerable around people who have experienced similar problems. Take advantage of local support groups that are designed for people who want to quit drugs or alcohol. If you find a group you like, attend meetings regularly and get to know other members. Most support groups also plan events and outings, so members can socialize outside regular meetings. Some even offer counseling services through professional staff members. Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings with others who understand what you’re going through. They can help you feel less alone and more optimistic about your recovery process.
If you don’t see a support group that interests you, consider starting one at your workplace or community centre. For example, if there aren’t any existing groups for recovering addicts where you live, try reaching out to people at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). AA and NA offer free pamphlets on how to start your meeting. Many organizations are willing to help new groups get started because they value spreading their message.
Remember what is important
While it’s natural to be concerned about your addiction, you need to prioritize what is important in your life. The more time you spend worrying about your addiction, the less time you have for healthy activities and relationships. Instead, make a list of non-negotiable factors—i.e., those that are vital to life and happiness—and keep them top-of-mind throughout treatment and recovery. These may include spending time with loved ones or participating in activities that bring you joy. Remind yourself that supports for recovery and these things are more essential than whether you use drugs. They will also help prevent relapse because they provide positive feelings and experiences that counterbalance drug cravings.
Don’t worry about perfection
Perfectionism is what drives us to try to control our environments—and, as a result, when we don’t see things go our way, we get frustrated. But letting go of perfectionism means making peace with failure. Rather than focusing on never messing up, work towards progress and self-improvement, no matter how small it may be. You can always practice bettering yourself every day; you just have to accept that sometimes you’ll do so imperfectly. Which brings us to … It’s Okay to Fail: Acknowledging your failures (big or small) and learning from them will help you grow into a more capable person. Everyone fails at some point or another, but rather than seeing these mistakes as signs of weakness, learn from them instead.
Failure is an important part of growth, and by recognizing its role in your life, you can embrace it as an opportunity for improvement. Learn to Forgive Yourself: When you mess up, forgive yourself quickly and move on. Holding on to guilt only holds you back from progressing forward with your life. Take Responsibility for Your Actions: Recognizing where you went wrong allows you to take responsibility for your actions—and holding yourself accountable helps keep your motivation high during recovery.
One common idea is that addiction is a result of bad or weak character. While these qualities may influence an individual’s decision to use drugs, they do not drive recovery from addiction. You cannot simply will your way out of an addiction; however, you can work to change your environments and supports for recovery. How can you help yourself succeed? First, identify what triggers your drug cravings—are there certain places or people who cause you to feel like using again? Try avoiding those triggers for as long as possible. Second, surround yourself with positive influences—friends and family who are supportive of your sobriety can make all the difference in helping you stay on track.
Finally, remember that relapse is part of recovery; it happens to everyone! Learn how to cope with relapse, so it doesn’t become a pattern. As always, get professional help if you need it. Addiction treatment programs have trained professionals who know how to work with patients suffering from addiction. Remember: Addiction does not have to define your life. If you follow through with these suggestions, together we can find a way out of substance abuse and into true recovery!