Addiction is so much more than a biochemical dependence on a harmful substance or behavior – it is often our attempt to soothe painful emotions and to seek out comfort and connection. Many of us living with addiction tend to isolate ourselves, separating ourselves from the loving connection we need to find healing and emotional stability. Addiction is still stigmatized in many families and communities, leading us to isolate ourselves even further because we’re afraid of being judged, afraid of sharing our truth, and afraid of being shunned. However, family connection is the opposite of addiction.
Connection Is the Opposite of Addiction
When we think of recovery, we think of healing from our dependence and choosing abstinence from our drug of choice. Perhaps just as important as this abstinence is the development of healthy connections and support systems. In a well-known TED Talk, writer Johann Hari talks about connection being the opposite of addiction. Feeling connected and supported can help us to stay in recovery long-term. Connection can help us to make lifelong changes that keep us well.
Being surrounded by caring people brings us a sense of connection, which can be comforting, reassuring, and uplifting. Genuine connection and love help us to see through the illusions of the false sense of connection we thought we were getting from our drug of choice. At Athens Area Commencement Center, we strive to help people create a sense of community and connection that can be a lifeline during recovery.
Human Connection for Healing
Research shows that healthy support systems early in life can decrease our risk of addiction later in life. A lack of support and a lack of connection can be traumatic for many of us. That trauma can contribute to the development of unhealthy emotional patterns, including addictive patterns. When we don’t have the support of a loving connection, we can find solace in an addictive substance or behavior.
We might turn to our drug of choice when we feel alone in life. Feeling isolated from others, from our true selves, or from a higher power, we can find connection and comfort in anything that might offer a feeling of relief. Addictive substances might, for a moment, make us forget our pain, but that relief is always fleeting. The high is always followed by a devastating low, the disastrous crash after the high of the escape. Any feelings of security we had were shattered, as they were never real to begin with.
Connection Is a Sustainable Tool in Recovery
Connection, on the other hand, is a sustainable recovery tool that can help us navigate our intense emotions and difficult life experiences. We can turn to a loved one when we need a listening ear rather than seeking an escape by using substances with another that uses substances. Going to meetings and group sessions regularly can help us to connect with others and surround ourselves with support.
We can choose to hold ourselves accountable to the people we care about, seeing those connections as yet another reason to stay in recovery. Through healing, we can begin to give and receive forgiveness rather than using substances to escape feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. We can lean on our loved ones and allow them to love us rather than isolating ourselves out of fear.
Self-Development and Emotional Connection
As we recover, we learn the importance of personal development and connecting with ourselves emotionally. Many of us have, throughout our lives, turned to our drug of choice to cope with our emotions. Rather than face our difficult feelings, we try to escape them by getting drunk or high. We numb ourselves to painful memories. Our tendency is to suppress and avoid the things we don’t want to think about.
Just as important as abstinence from our drug of choice is the personal development that allows us to have a healthier relationship with our emotions. We can choose to connect with our emotions in healthy ways rather than disconnecting from them through drugs and alcohol. Rather than numbing ourselves to our emotions, we can learn to feel them and connect with them. We can develop a sense of self that is authentically true to who we are rather than a version of ourselves that is emotionally disconnected.
Connection Is the Opposite of Addiction: Emotional Management
One of the many important tools in our recovery toolbox is emotional management. How we handle stress, manage anger, and cope with sadness are some of the many things we learn about ourselves. What do we do when we’re triggered? How do we react in an argument? Do our feelings of sadness make us want to use substances again? What steps do we take to heal from trauma instead of burying it?
Learning to manage our emotions is a crucial element of our recovery. The first step in emotional management is being able to connect with the difficult emotions we’ve long been disconnected from. We have the power to stay sober. Learning how to connect with our emotions is a critical part of staying sober. Some helpful tools for emotional management are self-reflection and connecting with loved ones.
Attending Support Groups With Loved Ones
Attending support group meetings and ongoing treatment programs are invaluable recovery tools. Other tools include working with a sponsor, creating a home support group, and going to therapy. All of these tools can help us to stay strong in our recovery. At Athens Area Commencement Center, we offer multiple groups where people begin to create the very important connections that support their recovery. As we do the work to heal, we find that connection is the opposite of addiction, as well as a powerful tool in our recovery.
At Athens Area Commencement Center, we make connection a top priority in our treatment programs because we know how important connection is, not only to recovery but to overall well-being. We offer individual and group sessions, as well as family sessions, in addition to long-term relapse prevention programs. Our approach to recovery is never a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all method, but rather, it is individualized and tailored to you and your unique needs. Our staff here at AACC works together as a family team to make sure you always feel connected and supported as you work to recover. Reach out to us at (706) 546-7355 to start building the connections that will help you heal.