This week at Ocean Recovery, we are reflecting upon the nature of groups and community. This subject should be close to the hearts of those of us who have had experience or are currently working through substance abuse or eating disorder issues. Whether we are a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART recovery, or other self-help programs, or whether we find an alternative path to recovery, a constant remains when it comes to successfully overcoming addiction. We need to re-establish our sense of community.
The Trap of Isolation
Think back on how things were when we were out running amok with drugs and alcohol. Life was painfully lonely back then. Every step we took carried us further away from our friends and family. We began to live in the shadows. Friends grew tired of our games and lies. Our families couldn’t bear to watch while we killed ourselves. Soon, the only people who would visit were dealers. And to deal with the loneliness, we spiraled even deeper into the cycle of addiction. Isolation is like steroids for addiction and eating disorders. Building connections and finding our place among others is the means to end that cycle.
A Stubborn Resistance to Change
Studies in neuroplasticity prove that the brain is constantly evolving and growing. However, brains are lazy. They are afraid of change and will resist it at every step. Think back to the last time you tried to start a new and positive habit, maybe a new year’s resolution to hit the gym more often. Now try to think of all the things that were going through your head before you did it. If your brain works like mine, it was probably full of reasons not to go out and get it done. Now if that’s how the mind acts when trying to create a positive habit, imagine the addicted mind protecting its relationship with drugs or alcohol.
A Wider Perspective
Does this mean that we’re hopeless cases, doomed to our lives of isolation and stagnation? How are we supposed to change when our brains would rather maintain the status quo? We do it by fostering connections. The simple truth is that we do not see ourselves the way others see us. Their outside perspective gives them a view of the bigger picture while we’re still stuck in the mire. What is hidden from is us obvious to them. These are the folks we need in our lives to bounce ideas off of and help us see what we cannot. And luckily, the recovery community is full of people who are ready to do just that if we only ask for help.
The Real Meaning of Community
So it looks like we have our work cut out for us. This shouldn’t be a shock, considering we’re basically re-wiring our brains. But by reaching out and becoming part of a community, we can and will make progress toward our goals. We need only to ask for help and be ready to work. In no time at all, we’ll be the ones who are asked for help. And just like those who helped us, we will be glad to return the favor to the newcomer. This is the spiritual aspect of recovery spoken of in twelve-step meetings. These are the types of relationships we’re referring to when we get excited bout the recovery community and the things it has to offer.