The force of community is undeniably powerful in recovery from addiction and alcoholism. The cement that binds nearly every addict to the other is their shared suffering of loneliness and isolation. Beginning early in life with feelings of “different than” or “separate from” or “not measuring up,” which is perpetuated by isolation, fear, social anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, this will eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy and can lead to an extensive battle with substance abuse.
The addict or alcoholic will usually fight to “do it their own way” or “do it by themselves” and give every excuse as to why they don’t need help from others. Until the pain of isolation and loneliness becomes so great that the addict is willing to partake in uncomfortable, frightening yet imperative community-driven action, the addiction will continue, and the addict will stay sick.
Community is absolutely essential to achieve success in long-term sobriety. Human connection formed in inpatient treatment, sober living, and 12-Step meetings can be vital to fulfilling the emotional needs of someone in recovery. Nearly any successful treatment program involves building honest relationships and eventually practicing principles of altruism, or unselfish behavior as seen by helping others.
3 Kinds of Community in Addiction Treatment
1. Residential Treatment
More often than not for a newly sober person, detoxification, or ridding the body of toxic substances will not be enough to solve the problem of addiction. Residential treatment is often regarded as a therapeutic community. It’s this healing aspect of interaction between staff and clients that fosters both motivation and the adoption of skills that can form the foundation for lasting recovery. The key differences in the communities at residential treatment are the following:
- A drug and alcohol-free environment giving clients time to break the cycle of relapse and dependence.
- A structured daily schedule monitored by staff; teaching clients consistency and discipline.
- Daily guidance in building self-confidence, self-efficacy, and life skills for ongoing sobriety.
2. Recovery Houses
Post-treatment, joining a sober living community is an important step to reintegrate into society and everyday life. These communities help individuals strengthen themselves mentally and physically to fully overcome their addiction. Living with others who are working toward living a sober lifestyle along with the boundaries and accountability set forth in the house, is a proven tool for long-term sobriety.
3. 12-Step Meetings
The basis for 12-Step programs is a guideline which, if followed step by step, leads one through a series of practices. These practices are intended to gather knowledge of self, become open to accept help, and consciously work to change thoughts and behaviors. 12-Step programs are based on community. They bring together groups of people who, no matter what their status or circumstances, have one thing in common – overcoming addiction. The power of a unified community around these principles have lasted the test of time.
5 Health Benefits of Community / Fellowship
1. Stronger Immunity
Research is now showing that there is a direct link between social support from community and the immune system. Science has proven that there is an ongoing two-way conversation between your brain and your immune system. How we think about our connectedness to family and friends evokes emotions that directly affect our hormonal, nervous, and immune responses. Having a healthy immune system reduces risk for nearly all illnesses, including addiction.
2. Lower Stress
Researchers believe that community / fellowship also plays a role in the way the body processes stress. When you build connections with others your body produces less of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can have a calming effect. Many people carry destructive thought and emotional patterns causing stress in our bodies, which can lead to behaviors like abusing substances. Sharing our thoughts and emotions with a trusted community is way to alleviate the burden of stress, often leading toward long-term recovery.
3. Increased Happiness
Believe it or not, community can actually bring us happiness. Having a supportive community helps us to gain more confidence with praise and reassurance. Studies show that socializing with happy people can actually rub off on us giving us a more positive outlook on life.
4. Increased Knowledge
One of the biggest reasons to join a community is the opportunity to learn from one another. Joining a community of like-minded people means you have an increased chance of meeting someone who’s willing to take you under their wing and mentor you. Having a strong mentor enables you to avoid costly mistakes that could derail life progress. Addiction recovery is a great example where having a strong mentor could mean the difference between continued sobriety and relapse.
5. Better Overall Health
Embracing fellowship within a community can be good for your health throughout your life. Professionals believe that meaningful friendships promote overall healthy habits because they encourage us to swap harmful habits for healthier ones. Those that belong to a community and develop close relationships have healthy, thriving lives in their body, mind, and spirit.
The Stonegate Center Community
At Stonegate Center, the purpose of our curriculum is to build rock-solid community, bringing radical transformation to every client. One of our core values is maintaining an environment where both staff and clients operate with sincere honesty, transparency, feedback, and openness all aimed at supporting the foundation for life-long recovery. Three important ways we promote community here at Stonegate are through spirituality, accountability, and recreation.
We, at Stonegate Center take a Christ-centered spiritual approach to recovery and community. Teaching clients to live according to principles such as humility, patience, and forgiveness. We believe these principles have a unifying effect on our community increasing our ability to lean on one another for help with recovery. Also, therapists and Recovery Advocates work closely with clients to evoke their God-given gifts and talents. Encouraging clients that the purpose of their gifts are for being of service to others and using them are a vital part of our 90-day curriculum.
As clients grapple with their addiction, they are likely to want to avoid honest communication with others about their problems. We believe it is important for our client’s sobriety to encounter tough relationships that will help them face the truth. Clients spend group time each week confronting one another in love for the purpose of awareness, acceptance, and finally action toward a new way of life. Accountability and honesty in our relationships are essential to successful recovery. They can provide us with an objective perspective, helping us to admit the truth, breaking down the wall of isolation.
Stonegate Center also offers recreational activities such as group exercise routines and team sports. Clients encouraging one another to achieve workout goals and playing along side each other in team sporting events such as volleyball, basketball, frisbee golf, etc. are shown to improve comradery among peers and create team building skills.
Encouraging Community After Treatment
Stonegate Center is a community-based treatment program, and we encourage our clients to maintain fellowship with peers in the program as well as seeking new fellowships upon leaving treatment. Our Stonegate Alumni Program, also called Across the Bridge, continues to support our graduates with a constant means of communication via social media along with regular events for continued fellowship.
Clients also attend 12-step meetings in area throughout treatment for the purpose of encouraging them to join a 12-step community post treatment. Community after treatment is essential for continued progress in recovery. We work hard at Stonegate to make sure everyone leaving our facility has a sober community available to them.
Importance of Service in Recovery
Struggling with addiction can often turn a person inward, causing them to be focused only on themselves and their maladaptive behaviors or habits. They start to withdrawal from the world and society. Recovery brings new hope for a life that provides meaningful interactions with others. For many in recovery, this begins with service work.
Studies show that individuals in recovery that continue to help others find sobriety are more likely to stay abstinent than those who do not help others. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches us the principle of gratitude as being indispensable in recovery. Not just as an inward feeling of thankfulness, but as an outward expression of service. Saying “thank you” with action rather than words.
In the famous prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, it states, “For it is in giving that we receive,” leading some to believe that the only way to experience healing from addiction is to offer it to others in service. A common experience described by most alcoholic/addicts is about having a void in their soul that they have spent their lives trying to fill. Many of us suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism are abusing these substances to fill something seemingly missing inside us. The story of so many who have recovered from this seemingly hopeless disease often attest to the benefit of community in alleviating that void.
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, we are here for you. Give our Admissions Specialists a call at (817) 993-9733 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have you join our recovery community and start your journey to lifelong sobriety.
Stonegate Center is a faith-based alcohol and drug abuse treatment center based in Azle, Texas. Our separate treatment facilities for men and women provide safe and healing environment where our residents can receive guidance and achieve physical freedom from addiction. Stonegate Center stresses community, accountability, and fellowship. Serving the communities of Azle, Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, and beyond.