Just like with investing in the stock market, it’s in your best interest to diversify your assets; in this case, these are your sources of support and guidance for your recovery. Strengthening your resolve and your commitment by connecting with others who want to help you can only help you reach your goals. With the support of your peers, the guidance of your sponsor, and the resources of your treatment program, your recovery becomes a shared load that’s easier for you to carry up the mountain of sobriety.
Joining a fellowship provides countless important benefits at every step of your recovery process. At the start of your sobriety, when every day counts, the social support of people who know what you’re going through can make the difference between feeling like each day is an insurmountable challenge and feeling like each day is an opportunity to grow and improve.
As you begin to form a new life in sobriety, you’ll look for new ways to fill your time with enjoyment and purpose. The fellowship of your peers can offer you numerous possibilities at this middle point of your sobriety as well. Part of a successful recovery will be the way you replace your old habits with new ones. Here, your peers can provide valuable social alternatives to drinking and partying like you used to. They’ll help you try new hobbies, invite you to events, and welcome you into a new circle of companions who enrich and energize your social life while helping to support your recovery.
Once you’re more settled in your recovery, you may think that the need to participate in fellowship groups will naturally come to an end. This may be true for some, but fellowships are designed with the intention of providing you with valuable resources throughout the rest of your life as a sober person. Networking with your support system can lead you to explore things like community involvement, volunteer work, or peer mentoring. Your fellowship may even be a source for new employment opportunities, professional networking, or career counseling.
Perhaps most important of all, the fellowship of your peers can make the ultimate difference if you experience relapse or regression. Remember that recovery is a lifelong process and that even the most determined among us can make mistakes or succumb to the trials and tribulations of life’s ups and downs. No matter how far along you are, having the safety net of your peers is an invaluable precaution to make sure that if you do slip up, you’ll have the support of people who are prepared to give swift, decisive help for getting you back on track.
While all of the benefits above come with fellowship in a group, be sure to take advantage of another, equally helpful provision at most treatment centers and recovery programs: connecting with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who will work with you on a one-on-one basis to assess your progress in sobriety, help you through unique struggles you may be facing, and offer guidance throughout your entire journey.
Your sponsor will assist you in creating a prevention plan and will hold you accountable to it. If you relapse or run into roadblocks, the guidance of a mentor figure can help you see yourself from new perspectives and offer clarity for your path forward.
If you’ve read through the 12 Steps as laid out by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you’ve probably noticed a prominent emphasis on the role that God plays. It’s not unusual for people who would otherwise give AA or other fellowships an enthusiastic shot to be put off by “the God word”. The truth is that, with a shortlist of specific exceptions, fellowships and recovery groups have nothing to do with organized religion of any sort. The term “God” is typically used to refer to a person’s connection to spirituality, whatever that may mean to them.
There are also inaccurate notions that AA, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other fellowships involve any sort of cult-like practices, or that they encourage insular, obsessive, worshipful mentalities. While it may be true that some recovery groups may be centered around a charismatic leader whose experience makes them a prime candidate for guiding others, and some may naturally form tight-knit communities who spend a lot of time together throughout their combined recoveries as a group. The goal of 12-Step programs, however, is solely to provide support for the recovery of each member. 12-Step programs and other treatment groups are voluntary, self-regulating groups that are not beholden to any central authority and seek no greater purpose than to encourage and strengthen the goals of its constituents. The suggestions that 12-Step programs and fellowships are comparable to religious sects or cult groups are factless and unsubstantiated, and these misconceptions can be harmful to those who might benefit from the services they offer.
Your recovery is one of the most important processes you’ll ever make part of your life. You don’t have to do it alone. Working with the support of a fellowship and the resources of a treatment program can make all the difference in your progress and relapse prevention. At Cornerstone Healing Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, we know that the deep and lasting benefits of a strong support system can carry you through even the most trying moments in your recovery. We foster a dynamic, welcoming community of peers and treatment professionals to make your transition as smooth and successful as possible. No two paths to recovery are the same, which is why we work to connect you with personalized groups and sponsors suited for your individual circumstances. Joining a fellowship can be one of the best investments you can make in the long-term success of your sobriety. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.