Addiction Treatment Alumni: Staying Connected to Community

Woman seeking medical-aided recovery for opiate addiction

Contributor: Staff of  Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

One of the bigger changes made in addiction recovery revolves around lifestyle. People, places and things will all need to change in order to thrive in sobriety. So, what tools can be used to stay involved in the local community after addiction treatment?

The lifestyle change, in and of itself, is something that may have to be grieved in order to come to terms with a new way of living. It is important to grieve the loss of those people, places, and things in order to accept new opportunities and support systems into our lives.

Examples of needed lifestyle changes may be friends who are still using drugs, places that you’ve used (bathroom, car, parks), or certain tools and paraphernalia (pipes, needles, grinders, glasses). The sense of community after addiction treatment is vital in addiction recovery. The reason being that recovery is more fulfilling with others than alone, and it can help build a sustainable recovery.

Addiction Treatment and 12-Step Meetings

Staying sober on your own can be quite difficult so the encouragement of a support system can help build a more stable recovery. Some ways that alumni can stay connected with their community are 12-step meetings and volunteering services in the area of mental health.

12-step meetings are a great way to stay connected. 12-step offers a community of recovering people who are more than willing to help through recovery. In the meetings, working with a sponsor is encouraged.

Sponsors are also an essential part of working a 12-step program. They help mentor through the steps and act as a support in the process.

Sponsors encourage attending meetings, keeping an open line of communication and assign “homework” when working through the steps together. 12-step also offers the opportunity to participate in leisure activities without the pressure of having to explain sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) host different events and retreats that do not involve substances and help with the adjustment period of a sober lifestyle. These types of sober activities help re-define activities that were once associated with using.

For example, bowling can now be fun without alcohol, and there can now be new memories associated with the act of bowling. Trying new things sober also provides an opportunity to explore different leisure activities that can be utilized as self-care.

Alumni can also stay connected to the local community after addiction treatment by volunteering services in the area of mental health. This act can generate purpose and help advocate for others who have headed down similar paths.

In AA and NA this is part of the 12th-step which emphasizes giving back to the recovery community and sharing the message of hope that comes from AA and NA. Some different ways volunteering can show up are speaking in schools, hospitals or treatment centers.

Woman on bridge in addiction treatment concerned about her finding a new community after addiction treatmentVolunteering can be done in affiliation with AA/NA or a treatment center. It is important to practice boundaries in order to create a healthy and appropriate relationship with others. These boundaries can be especially difficult early in recovery when healthier behaviors are still being implemented.

It’s important to make use of resources and discover recovery focused groups in the area. Utilize what is available and then help others utilize those resources as well.

Apps on any smartphone are a great pocket resource to find meetings, sober supports, and literature. There are numerous online websites that also help to locate meetings and events. Lastly, being present at the meetings is helpful in the exchange of resources with others, and it serves as a constant reminder of hope.

Thank you to Timberline Knolls for providing this article.

Timberline Knolls is a leading residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls, ages 12 and older, with eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, mood and co-occurring disorders. Located in suburban Chicago, residents receive excellent clinical care from a highly trained professional staff on a picturesque 43-acre wooded campus. An adult partial hospitalization program (PHP) is also available in nearby Orland Park, Ill., for women to step down or direct admit. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call 630-755-5173. We are also on Facebook – Timberline Knolls, LinkedIn – Timberline Knolls and Twitter – @TimberlineToday.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 8, 2017
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 12, 2021
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.