No Longer Alone: Positive Impact of Support

Finding support in recovery is paramount to successful outcomes. After leaving a treatment facility, some individuals may feel overly confident, believing that they can get through their struggles alone. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center understands the importance of support during and following treatment. We begin the transition process during a teen’s stay at our facility to best prepare them and their family for the aftercare process. We invite members of a teen’s support team–family, friends, and other concerned individuals–to help with each resident’s treatment and recovery beyond our facility.

Support and Our Need to Belong

We know that our maladaptive behaviors are often an attempt to have an unmet need fulfilled. We can make the case that all behavior, maladaptive or healthy, is motivated by a need. Addiction can be a means of fulfilling an unmet emotional or psychological need. Other behaviors, like cutting, promiscuity, and running away, can be an unhealthy way of getting something we need. When we have no knowledge or skills to get our needs met in healthy ways and habits, we might resort to these maladaptive behaviors. Isolation and loneliness can lead to a relapse when our need to belong is unmet.

The need to belong is one of the needs that humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow identified on the “Hierarchy of Needs” to explain human motivation towards personal fulfillment. The hierarchy outlines “love and belonging” as the third tier of our needs, above our most basic survival needs (food, sex, shelter, water) and the need for safety. However, is “support” about the need to belong to a group, or is support paramount to fulfilling our safety needs?

Support: Both Safety and Belonging

Many of us need support not only to feel loved but to find fulfilling connections with others. We need support to feel safe and secure. Children and teens especially need support to feel safe in their homes before focusing on finding a place to belong or a “tribe” outside of their homes. When a person in recovery does not feel supported, they might not feel safe. For example, a person struggling with suicidal ideation does not need another person close by during the night to experience “a sense of belonging.” They need this person to feel safe–and to keep them safe if something goes wrong.

Recovery support can be about fulfilling both the need to feel safe AND the need to belong. One of the common issues that come up for those in recovery is something that Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey describes as “terminal uniqueness” on multiple episodes of “Beyond Risk and Back.” When in recovery, people might feel so unique in their experiences that no one will understand what they have been through. They might shun support, believing that others cannot possibly relate to them or their problems. The idea of being terminally unique can keep us feeling lonely.

My Family and Friends Don’t Understand

We might feel terminally unique because the people within our immediate orbit, like friends and family, might not share the same experiences. We might expect them to know how to treat us or how to help us–after all, these individuals have known us for so long! Sometimes, we need to teach and show our support team HOW to support us in recovery! If we expect everyone to just “know” how to help us, we might struggle to get their support when we need it. 

Sometimes, when we struggle in recovery, we might unintentionally push people away when we need them the most. By teaching our support team about our triggers and warning signs, they can catch these issues before things spiral out of control. Family, long-time friends, and the people closest to us can help us feel safe and secure during our journey. However, how can we find a sense of belonging when they cannot relate to our issues?

Belonging in the Recovery Community

Connecting to peers in recovery can foster a sense of belonging as we relate to others with a shared past and experiences. We are not so unique that no one is unable to connect to us. There is a community available to support us and provide a sense of belonging as we strive toward a common goal in our recovery journey. Support groups, like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous (AA and NA), SMART Recovery, or specialized support groups for issues like grief, depression, anxiety, and other issues, can help us find the community that we need for positive outcomes in recovery! 

We do not need to be alone in our recovery. While recovery can feel lonely and isolating, we have others in our corner who have our backs. Our family and closest friends might not be able to relate to our issues; however, they can provide vital support that helps us feel safe. We may need to teach them about the best ways to support us during and after treatment. We might still feel a lack of belonging if there is no one within our immediate orbit with shared experiences. There are several support groups available for us with people ready and willing to help us! Many in recovery have formed their sense of belonging and community within the support structure in programs designed for those struggling with addiction or other issues. If you are alumni of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center and are struggling to find support, we are here for you. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. Remember that we’ve got your back!

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