Mom & Daughter

The Value of Building a Tribe and Social Network

Recovery from addiction and other problematic behaviors can be a pathway for our kids to foster more significant connections with others and with their lives as a whole. Our kids might need to build up their “Bear Tribe” and social networks for continued success in recovery. Addiction, cutting, promiscuity, and other behaviors might have been distracting them from forming meaningful connections. These behaviors may also have been their escape when they did not know how to connect with others. Rejection, whether real or perceived, can be painful. Our kids might feel like they do not fit in with others and turn to maladaptive behavior for relief. They also might have friends who enable their problematic behaviors. These “friends” might encourage our kids to continue using drugs or alcohol–hanging friendship over their heads to get them to join along.

Finding healthy and positive people to surround themselves with is crucial in our kids’ recovery. Being successful and building autonomy does not happen in isolation. While being comfortable and content with time alone can be a healthy sign, being completely cut off from others does indicate that they are strong and independent. This may be a sign that they need to find ways to connect with others that are healthy and lead to deep connections. 

The Importance of Relationships and Connections

Relationships and connections with other people may be the most valuable resource that all of us have. Friends and family can support our kids not only when they are feeling at their worst; strong support systems can encourage our kids to strive to be their best. Our kids might only have half of this support. Often, we might only respond during a crisis or an emergency. Our kids might have help when they are at their worst. But, have we taken time to consider the other side of connections?–by being available not only when our kids fall but to encourage them to keep running toward their goals. We can teach our kids that people who are there during the good times and the bad can build their “tribe.” The connections they have with others do not make them dependent or weak. Instead, the support and encouragement of the tribe make our kids stronger.

Rituals and Coming Together

Sometimes, our children, before recovery, engaged in ritualistic behavior while participating in unhealthy behaviors. For example, when getting together with friends and getting drunk, our kids were bonding or connecting. Maybe they got together with friends, getting stoned, and playing video games all night. The rituals can be just as addictive as substances and maladaptive behaviors. When they get clean and sober or stop using other behaviors like promiscuity or video game addictions, our kids might miss the “bonding” that they had with the other people involved. These rituals became a part of how they connected with others, even if these relationships were unhealthy or not in their best interests. Recovery is not just about getting sober or ceasing all unhealthy behaviors. Recovery is about taking steps to lead a fulfilling, healthy, and happy life. Our kids can now seek new friendships built on healthy rituals.

Finding A New and Healthy Tribe

What are our kids’ other interests? Addiction can distract them from the things that they genuinely love. Our kids might have a talent in music or art. They might love hiking or playing sports. They might also just want to connect with others dealing with the same struggles that they have gone through. Our kids can find and seek like-minded people by following their interests. They can find others committed to healthy lifestyles and recovery. To build a healthy social network, they can join groups related to our interests. They might want to attend 12-step groups or volunteer in their communities. They can join a sports team or take an extracurricular art class. They can look for new rituals to engage in, like running relay races, getting together for a round of disc golf, listening to music as a group, painting together, or going to events together.

The connections that our kids foster with others both in and out of the recovery community can be crucial to their success. Addiction can involve other processes that our kids find just as difficult to leave behind as maladaptive behavior. They might be just as addicted to the ritualistic aspects of the behavior as the behavior itself. By being mindful of this, our kids can take proactive strategies to succeed in our recovery. 

Remember, too, that you as a parent are not alone. Other parents are walking along the same pathway as you are. Reach out and find them. You and your kid can build a new tribe in recovery!

Building a tribe and social network can help your child in recovery. By finding connections and healthy relationships, they can find meaning and fulfillment in life. They might want to consider finding social groups around shared interests, like art, music, sports, or hiking. When they meet new people based on interests, our kids can develop healthy rituals for common bonds that do not involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Connections are essential for recovery. They can find others with similar mindsets about building a healthy lifestyle during 12-step groups or other meet-ups. For more on the importance of healthy rituals, check out the podcast, “Building Your Tribe and Replacing Rituals.” If you have a child struggling with an addiction or other problematic behavior, you may not know where to start with treatment. The staff at Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center can discuss options with you to determine if residential treatment is the next right step to help your child. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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