Heroin recovery can feel like a lonely experience, with none of the euphoric highs and crushing lows of addiction. Finding others to quit heroin with you is an incredibly important part of the journey.
Your new community will help you through the challenges and giddying successes of sobriety. If you’ve ever wondered how to find support for your heroin recovery, there are many options.
No recovery program is complete without the combined efforts of other people to support you on your journey. Some of those people may have had their own heroin struggles in the past, and others may never have experienced addiction.
What is important is that they are there for you and that you can trust them. A good support group will work with you when sobriety is difficult, and they will celebrate with you as your life continues to improve.
For this reason, having a support group is of the utmost importance in recovery. In 2016, the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation journal wrote that numerous studies have found that working with others to quit a particular drug habit not only helps reduce the rate of substance abuse, but it also gives people the skills to stay connected with their treatment. It also helps them make other positive changes to their lifestyle and learn how to better control their cravings for more heroin.
But what do these peer groups look like? How is it possible to find others to support you on your quest to quit heroin? There are general and specific ways to surround yourself with the right people for your recovery.
One way is to cut ties with the people who had an unhealthy influence on you. These are people whom you associate with your days using heroin. Maybe you used together, maybe they put you in touch with dealers, or maybe they introduced you to heroin or opioid abuse. However you know them, if they are unwilling to quit their own involvement with heroin, they are not going to help you stay sober.
Severing contact with these people allows you to create a network of friends and loved ones who can actively work with you to cultivate positive and healthy habits. It is very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to maintain sobriety if the people who kept the habit alive are still in the picture.
Developing new friends and connections will give you a space to voice your struggles and concerns, talking through challenges in treatment-oriented ways instead of shooting up to cope with the inevitable stress or spending time with people who would.
A big part of creating that space is to educate family and friends about what you’re going through. Your time in therapy will help you articulate your experiences with heroin abuse, mental health, and the environmental risk factors that led to your problem.
Being able to clearly explain that to your new support group will give your recovery community the vital information they need to know how to best work with you through your recovery. This can entail having honest conversations about your state of mind, your moods, and what you need. Your therapist or caseworker can help you have these conversations.
Ready to get Help?
We’re here 24/7. Pick up the phone.
A blog on Psych Central identifies key ways you can create the right social support for putting your heroin problem behind you. Primary among them is to ask for help.
That can be much easier said than done, so it is important to develop the best conditions in which asking for help receives the best possible response. This can entail surrounding yourself with people you know you can trust, who will have your well-being in mind and having the right conversations with them, such that when you are in trouble, and you ask for their help, they know the specific things to do to provide the best assistance.
As the researchers noted, “Loved ones typically want to help, but don’t know how.” Finding support means educating and empowering those loved ones on how to have straightforward conversations with you about your behavior, how to be honest about their behavior, and how to positively and productively work together to build the right environment for you to quit heroin.
Another way to find the right support to help you quit heroin is to attend meetings. A treatment center should have the resources to guide you to find the right group: a 12-step program, a local Narcotics Anonymous chapter, SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, or another peer-led aftercare program.
Having the right friends and family members to help you through the journey of recovery is paramount, but you will need a specific type of social connection: one with other people who are in heroin recovery.
Psych Central explains that forming connections with individuals who know the pain of heroin addiction, and the challenges of overcoming that addiction, can teach you coping skills that your family can’t possibly know about. Connecting with peer-led support gives you a new outlet to share your experiences, your strengths, your struggles, and your hopes with people who speak that language.
It is not an easy language to speak. NPR writes of the heartbreak that comes from families sharing stories of how heroin addiction has devastated their loved ones, but there is also solidarity and strength in forming a bond through the most difficult of experiences.
How can you find the right support group for you? It can take time, and it might require a lot of research, such as consulting online resources or going to a local library or community center, talking with your therapist, and visiting different meetings until you feel at home.
Once you’ve found the group that fits your personality and needs, it is important to start attending regularly. People who don’t attend their group meetings regularly enough will often struggle to remember their treatment concepts and to keep their coping skills sharp.
Making it a point to volunteer, to share your story, to stay in touch with other members, and to spend time talking before and after the meeting will help you fit in with the group, and it will make your presence and your contributions valued.
If you feel tempted to go back to heroin or if your recovery presents other struggles, you have networks of people who know you and who know the language of relapse. They can step in to catch you before you fall.
Additional examples of different kinds of support groups include:
It is important to make sure that whichever group you find, it is one that is based around sobriety and, if possible, specifically opioid or narcotic sobriety. You should be able to enjoy the activities, but you need to find a community of people who truly understand the reality and difficulty of heroin recovery from their own experience.
Finding the right support system can mean making some difficult choices. As much as you should cut ties with people from your past life, it can also mean turning down seemingly positive connections, like a new romantic or sexual relationship, or a high-pressure job.
U.S. News & World Report explains that the early stages of your recovery require your absolute focus on yourself (your health and mental/emotional well-being). Introducing exciting and potentially stressful changes can undo a lot of the hard work you’ve invested in.
Much has been suggested about staying single and not pursuing stressful professional or personal endeavors for the first year of your recovery.
Heroin recovery can look like a lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By working with a therapist or caseworker, you can create a community of invested and experienced people to help you with the tougher parts of your sobriety. With patience, persistence, and love, you can find the support you need.
(July 2018). The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety. Psych Central. Retrieved January 2019 from https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-importance-of-good-support-systems-in-sobriety/
(September 2016). Benefits of Peer Support Groups in The Treatment of Addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047716/
(February 2017). Finding Friends After Addiction Rehabilitation. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 2019 from https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-02-10/finding-friends-after-addiction-rehabilitation
(2012). 5 Steps To A Strong (Sober) Social Support System. Psych Central. Retrieved January 2019 from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/02/5-steps-social-support-system/
(July 2015). For Families Of Heroin Addicts, Comfort Comes In Sharing Their Stories. NPR. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.npr.org/2015/07/11/422100536/for-families-of-heroin-addicts-comfort-comes-in-sharing-their-stories
(July 2015). From Sober Bars To Clean Spring Breaks, Helping Young Adults Move Beyond Addiction. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.chicagotribune.com/redeye/redeye-addiction-recovery-sober-bars-clean-spring-breaks-20150713-story.html
(February 2017). Why Newly Sober Alcoholics and Addicts Shouldn’t Date for a Year. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 2019 from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-02-13/why-newly-sober-alcoholics-and-addicts-shouldnt-date-for-a-year
(February 2012). To Live and Date in Sobriety. The Fix. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.thefix.com/content/sex-and-dating-in-sobriety-10028