What Social Network Nuances Occur in Addiction Recovery?

two guys talking on couch

There’s no question that addiction recovery involves change. Change in the way you perceive yourself and others, change in the way you perceive life, change in the way you handle upsetting thoughts, feelings, and events – the list goes on. While this may seem daunting at first, change is crucial to recovery because you are creating a life that is more conducive to your happiness and well-being. Another change that must take place occurs within your social network – those you used to abuse substances with will no longer fit nicely into your life, and you will need to replace these individuals with people who support your recovery. All in all, you may be wondering of how these changes will take place, and what factors may influence a person’s ability to change their social network while in recovery.

A 2015 study published in the journal “Qualitative Health Research” examined the experiences of women in treatment for substance dependence regarding their personal networks and their recovery. Seventeen women participated, with several groups divided into focus groups. The researchers asked many questions and then found themes from the participants’ responses. The following is what they found:

Qualities and Influences of Important Relationships

  • Children served as a “mirror”, with many participants wanting their kids to become a part of their lives more
  • Family has been important for receiving emotional support, honesty, and reciprocity
  • Support groups help decrease isolation, engage in honesty and confrontation, and serve as a useful foundation for direction
  • Treatment helps participants build social support, create linkages in learning, obtaining new interpersonal experiences, and more

Managing Network Relationships

  • Managing closeness and distance by avoiding certain areas related to a person that trigger them or maintaining closer contact with individuals that support their recovery
  • Adding new people to the network
  • Isolating or integrating people into the network

Barriers to Managing Relationships

  • Stigma
  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Absence of community resources
  • Lack of personal resources such as self-esteem and lack of treatment resources

One participant from the study stated that when her son was asked, “How will you know when your mother is using?” He stated, “By the company she keeps.” This experience sheds light on a very important subject of recovery – social networks. The people you spend your time with both inside and outside of treatment have profound influence over the way you live your life, so choose wisely and consider which people will be best for your happiness, health, and family.

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.