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Why Do I Need Community in Recovery?

Why Do I Need Community in Recovery?

Knowing you are not going it alone is the difference between success and failure in recovery

The value of community in recovery can never be overstated. In many cases, knowing you are not going it alone is the difference between success and failure in recovery. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from social to emotional to biological, and each is equally valid.

Addiction is Not Weakness, but a Disease

Addiction creates physical changes in the chemistry of the brain. Neurotransmission[1] is the way in which cells communicate stimuli across the body, and is the mechanism that allows an individual to experience his environment in meaningful ways. For example, it is neurotransmission that allows both the nose to register the scent of chocolate chip cookies and the brain to understand that somebody baked cookies.

Most drugs impact the process of neurotransmission in one way or another. For example, morphine impacts the neurotransmitters affecting sedation and mood. It is the often the change in neurotransmission that produces the sense of “being high” from a given drug. Over time, the neurotransmitters can be permanently damaged. This can result in poor capacity for memory or reduced motor skills.

Once this is understood appropriately, it is then more reasonable to apply the rubric of support that is seen in other diseases. Nobody assumes that a diabetic will get better just by trying harder, but will instead need the support of a physician to provide medication, a dietician to show them how to eat healthy, and friends and family to aid in the transition to a diabetic diet. It is similar for drug and alcohol addiction — support helps the individual to overcome certain aspects of her disease.

Community Provides Much Needed Outside Perspective

It is nearly impossible for an individual battling anxiety or depression to have an accurate view of the strength of the highs or lows, but others can certainly provide this perspective. Friends and family will be able to offer specific and accurate feedback on how strong the anxiety or depression seems to be on a given day. This is invaluable for the individual suffering, and serves as a reality check of sorts.

For example, the person in severe depression may be convinced that he has never had as much trouble getting out of bed than he is having right now. As a result, he can have difficultly imagining pulling out of this low, which can lead him to more despondency. In the moment, a close friend can step in and reassure him that he has been this low before and has pulled out of it, that normalcy can and will return again. He is actually managing himself very well given the strength of the depression raging inside of him. This support can greatly decrease the duration of this bout of depression, and can even be the difference between life and death in extreme cases.

Everyone has Weak Moments

Some days, the mental health condition seems to steal away all strength and willpower. These are the most dangerous days, and the days when community is most important. In these weakest of moments, another person can come alongside and lend strength and perseverance. Simply by being present, this person can give courage to another. Love, care and tenderness are empowering, no matter how dark the day.

Training from Experts

The experts at the rehabilitation program are great resources for building a community in recovery. These individuals have extensive training in how to assist those in recovery, and are bound to act in accordance with industry standards. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has published principles of effective treatment, some of which have been listed below:[2]

  1. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
  2. Behavioral therapies — including individual, family or group counseling — are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
  3. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
  4. An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  5. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
  6. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
  7. Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.

Having the support of these seasoned individuals who act according to these solid principles will invariably increase the chances of a successful recovery.

Support is a Great Start

If you are ready for rehab, there is never a better time to start than today. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your addiction. They can help you find your way.


[1], Carl Sherman, “Impact of Drugs on Neurotransmission”, accessed November 4, 2015.

[2], “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment,” accessed November 15, 2015