Why Should I Surround Myself with Reliable People?
Humans are hardwired for relationships, as everyone gleans support, love and hope through social connection. However, for individuals who are overcoming heroin abuse, the need for reliable friendship is urgent.
Heroin is recognized as one of the most highly addictive opiates, which is statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) show that relapse rates after treatment for this drug are a soaring 87%. Moreover, cravings for this drug can last for years after someone quits, especially for chronic users. In other words, getting through detox and the pain of withdrawal is only the beginning of a long journey toward life-long sobriety. In short, to build an addiction recovery that lasts, and to experience the dynamic, positive changes that come from avoiding heroin, you need patience, which you can find if you surround yourself with stable people. To learn more about why consistent, healthy relationships are critical to your sobriety, read on.
Danger Ahead: Peer Pressure
The people you choose to surround yourself with profoundly influence your recovery. For instance, research sponsored by the National Institute of Health reveal that people with solid support from friends and family members typically stay sober longer. In contrast, friends with whom you once used heroin can drag you back into your old lifestyle. Evidence for this phenomenon is found in studies of individuals who relapse after detox: according to U.S. National Library of Medicine research, 24% of adults and 66% of adolescents who begin using this drug again identify negative peer pressure as a major undermining factor.
It is easy to get lured back into using opiates “one last time” and to question whether or not staying sober is worth the work. For that reason alone, many recovery professionals say that steering clear of toxic relationships is just as important as abstaining from drugs. In short, consider the following three reasons to break ties with active drug users:
- People who use drugs can normalize the habit
- Drug addicts or chronic relapsers can discourage you from maintaining sobriety
- Socializing with people you associate with drug use can trigger cravings
Just as removing chemicals from the body is the first step toward freedom from addiction, detoxing from harmful relationships is key to maintaining your gains. Stick with the winners to engage a smart strategy.
Safety in Numbers
Once you weed out negative influences, it is important to get rooted in new connections. Waste no time to find sober friends, as isolation and loneliness are well-known relapse triggers. The link between staying sober and building relationships is conclusive: one study that was sponsored by the NIH discovered that people with good peer support and outside help—including rehab aftercare groups—stayed sober for longer periods of time. A similar study led by SAMHSA discovered that people can sustain sobriety through a combination of family involvement, friendships and volunteer work. That research also revealed that the reason for such success is that sobriety rubs off. In other words, until newly sober individuals establish adequate internal motivation, they can “borrow” encouragement and benefits from the stability of people with more time being sober.
Assembling a good team takes discernment. Hanging out with people in your stage of recovery has its perks, for certain. For instance, you see that you are not alone and, in some cases, see that you are further along than you feel. Just make sure you keep a mix that includes people who have stayed sober for significant periods of time. You do not have to reinvent the wheel: follow in the path that led them to success by copying positive behaviors, and you can time to avoid relapse.
One surefire way to do this is to join a 12-Step support group. Meeting other recovering heroin addicts can help you feel a new level of acceptance, which can raise your tattered self-esteem. It can also be empowering, as you will pick up new coping skills while sharing negative feelings instead of avoiding them. Along the way, you may find a mentor, also called a sponsor, to encourage you individually. The role of a sponsor is to help you work the 12 steps, share recovery tools and introduce you to others in the recovery community. In fact, therapists who work at Psychology Today note that any trustworthy person can fill the role. The point is to avoid flying solo. Keep one caution in mind as you move forward with community: put no one on a throne. People make mistakes, and even recovery heroes relapse, so putting too much faith in one person could put your recovery on shaky ground.
Halfway Houses: Help Going the Distance
With the right combination of professional treatment and aftercare, some people are able to transition directly from rehab back into mainstream living. Others require the support of a transitional living environment. Halfway houses, also known as sober-living homes, are residential houses run by people with experience in addiction. They give structure and consistent peer support through roommates during what can be a very turbulent transition.
Help for Heroin Abuse
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, then know that we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness, so please call today to begin recovery as soon as possible.
 Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/