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Does Perceived Social Support Play A Role in Addiction Relapse?


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There are many factors that affect a person’s chances of success in recovery: the ability to identify and prepare for triggers, actively using coping mechanisms learned in treatment, participating in therapy and recovery activities, and more. Recovery, especially the beginning, can be a very emotional time for a person because they are establishing a new way of living and figuring out what they need to promote their mind, body, and spirit.

At times, certain challenges may cause a person to relapse, especially if they were unaware of various triggers or if their emotions led them to act on a behavioral pattern previously associated with their addiction. Social support has been said to be an excellent motivating factor for many people in recovery; how does a person’s perceived social support from others impact their chances of relapsing?

A 2015 study published in the International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction involved the analyzation of 80 individuals’ responses to several assessments regarding perceived social support, expression of emotion, and relapse. The researchers found that the more participants viewed their families as being supportive of them the less they were to relapse; conversely, the more families tended to express their emotions (such as anger, resentment, guilt, etc.), the more likely participants were to relapse.

Emotion expression was measured regarding negative attitudes and tolerance and low/high expectations. Overall, it makes sense that, for example, if a person’s family consistently expresses their lack of faith in that person’s ability to succeed in recovery, that individual may be more likely to relapse. Perceived social support is often more focused on the person themselves – do they personally feel adequately supported by their family members, friends, etc.? This question is one that can clearly affect the predictability of relapse.

If you’re in recovery and do not feel that you have support, speak with a leader from your treatment center today. Many people who do not have friends and family at the beginning of their recovery are able to still prevent relapse by forming their own social support network within the treatment center. It’s never too late to reach out to others. Who knows – you may end up becoming friends with someone else who could really use support, too.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.