Hi friends. My name is Max Backer and I am Workit Health’s new Community Manager. As I get to know the Workit community, I wanted to introduce myself and tell you a bit about what community in recovery means to me.
I am celebrating 4 years of sobriety this month and I can tell you for certain that I wouldn’t have gotten here without the love and support of my recovery community. There are countless studies that say community is an essential part of the recovery process, and I agree. Having a personal support network means you don’t have to do it alone. And so much of active addiction is lonely. But what does community look like in practice?
My own experience with finding community in recovery
Well, let’s start with 4 years ago when I was contemplating that huge leap into recovery. I had a handful of friends that were fading into acquaintances, and every single one of them was a heavy drinker and partier. I was mostly drinking alone at home anyway, so going out to the bars didn’t really interest me anymore. I was in full isolation mode. Even though these friendships were waning, I was terrified to lose them, worried that getting sober would mean losing my social life completely.
Gosh, was I wrong about that! In truth, there wasn’t much left in those old friendships anyway, and they fell away in time. They were replaced by new friends who were all in the same stage of early recovery as I was. I had a gaggle of pals who were all stumbling through this process with me, coming back to life after years of self-abuse. The bond that we created with each other felt everlasting. In time, I developed a strong sense of community—the feeling that I was not alone in recovery, but that I had a whole network of friends and resources to turn to. And we were doing it together.
Now that didn’t happen overnight. I did what is pretty typical of me—I hung back and observed first, as I was just learning how to exist with myself as a sober human. I tried different support groups until I found the one that was right for me. Until I found “my people,” so to speak. Four years later, these are the same folks I check in with regularly, celebrate their triumphs, and hold their hands when things get difficult.
Why does community matter in recovery?
Here are a couple more reasons why finding community in recovery is so important to your well-being:
- Community gives you accountability. Whether it’s a quick check-in or celebration of sober days, your community will be there to support you and cheer you on. These days, our recovery community can be in our pockets and accessible with a click of a button. You can easily share when you are feeling triggered and allow your community to guide you through it.
- Community helps you socialize again. This was a big one for me. I needed to find new hobbies and interests that would support my recovery. What was I going to do with all this time on my hands? With wobbly feet, I learned how to attend social events while sober and I picked up lots of new ideas to supplement the downtime. This takes practice and patience, and a recovery community can be there to encourage these new endeavors.
- Community leads by the power of example. I think it’s a human trait to need to see others recovering to imagine a new world for ourselves. When we see folks who are just like us, living their best lives in recovery, it allows us to imagine a similar narrative for ourselves. We find our role models until we become the mentors ourselves.
- Community gives you purpose. Once you have found a community that works for you, you may find that supporting others gives you a sense of purpose. Being there for folks who are struggling can invigorate your own recovery and allow you to remember why you got on this sober train to begin with.
Everyone’s recovery is unique and your avenue into community is no different. Are you a social butterfly? Do you want to make a lot of friends and be a support to others? Are you introverted and looking to just dip your toe? A good recovery community will allow you to come as you are and open up to the group when you’re ready.
Here at Workit Health, we have big plans for our community this year. We have an active Facebook group, and we’re busy planning innovative and thoughtful events for our members. We are also putting together an Ambassador Program that will create opportunities for our members to lead the future of the Workit Health community.
In a lot of ways, my recovery community is the best group of friends I’ve ever had. It is here that I am able to show up as my most authentic self without the barriers of alcohol and drugs. If recovery is like coming home to yourself, my community is the lighthouse that led me there.