There is a community of recovering addicts and alcoholics out in the world. Most people have no idea this community exists. This community exists in AA/NA meetings, in Rehabs, Sober Living Homes and on the internet. This community is all about helping one another to recover and stay sober. At meetings, you get support and guidance from those who have years of sobriety. In Rehabs you find like souls searching for answers about themselves. Now on the internet, you can stay connected on forums. This community is real; it is alive and well in my life.
First, I was all alone in addiction. Most of my friends had moved away from me, or I had moved away from them. Addiction is a very lonely place for an alcoholic. Addicts tend to maintain a few friends, but most are transient. For the most part, addicts and alcoholics find themselves estranged from nearly everyone, and they find themselves isolating from everything.
Building the community
When you go to rehab, you start to feel the struggle of others who are dealing with the same problem you have. You stay in a rehab for thirty days; this is more than enough time to reconnect with the world again. In my case, I think the only person I had talked to in two months was the guy at the liquor store, and one of those conversations was me saying “sorry man, it won’t happen again” after falling into the shelf of liquor bottles. Now I had thirty-five people to talk to, and it was great! I felt alive again. I felt like I was a human being, not a robot that shuffled to the liquor store every day avoiding eye contact with anyone.
Rehabs are where you meet some of your future community. It all starts there; you exchange email addresses, and you stay in touch with people you have spent weeks with while discovering what’s wrong with you. Even if you don’t remain in contact with these people, they are with you in spirit as you travel through your journey to sobriety. You remember conversations you had with them. You were touched by their stories that were so eerily close to your own.
Building a community of friends and support is critical to recovery. As humans, we are at our best when we work together. A recovery community is no different than any other community where multiple people can achieve much more than the single individual.
In the case of the addict and alcoholic, having friends and support to help them along the way is crucial. No longer are you fighting your internal battle alone, you are fighting with others who understand the complexities of the struggle.
The first things you hear from newcomers at AA/NA meetings is; “I am lost” or “I need help because I can’t do this alone, I have tried.” I remember telling the first counselor I had in Rehab, “I want to quit, but I don’t know how.”
After leaving my first and second Rehabs, I went home and disconnected from everyone I had met there. I didn’t want to belong to a community of addicts and alcoholics. I was wrong to think I could do it alone. Consequently, I wound up in a third rehab. The difference this time was when I got out, I stayed connected and went to live in a Sober Living Home.
After rehab, you reconnect and exchange phone numbers. You then hit up new meetings in other parts of town and add new members to your growing community. Some of the speakers have great things to say that resonate with you. Their words stick with you, and you recall them when you need a lift or inspiration. As you continue this routine, your community of others like you has grown exponentially, and it is comforting. The more meetings you attend, the more you feel connected to this community of souls. When you feel bad or edgy, you may reach out to this community for some direction or solace.
If you go to a Sober Living Home, you meet a different kind of community member. These members will likely have the biggest impact on you. These may be friends for life. If you spend a year in a Sober Living Home with other people in recovery, it would be hard not to become very close to them. You get to know them intimately, and you learn almost everything there is to know about them. You share everything from stories about your childhood, to things about high school, college, relationships, and so much more. The most important aspect you share is how the hell you all got there. Everyone shares their thoughts on “what went wrong.” This topic is the most studied and scrutinized of all subjects. Everyone has different stories that all share the same ending. It’s like we all wrote a different life story set in different times and places, yet we wrote the same finale.
I have had friends for years that don’t know as much about me as my roommates at the Sober Living House know. We had so much time to dig into our pasts and find common traits in all of us that led us to addiction. In the confines of that house, we were not being judged by our past behaviors; we were being commended for our strength to want to change the past. We supported each other every day. We kept tabs on each other. We could always tell when someone was down and needed help. The same thing happens when you go to a meeting or talk to a friend from rehab. You feel so free and open to sharing your past and present life, warts and all.
Websites and Blogs
Lastly, there is the online community. There are great sites with valuable information where you can connect with others and become educated about addiction and recovery. Many Blog writers have so much to share about their experiences. Also, many authors have written some great books about recovery. Facebook has so many good recovery groups you can join too.
The people I have contacted, the blogs and the sites, and authors of books I have read, all add to my ever-growing community.
So there it is, that’s The Community Spirit. It’s an amalgamation of all the people you meet at rehab, meetings, Sober Living Homes, forums, and blogs. These are the spirits that you have so much in common. These are the people who have ruined their lives with addiction like you have. These are the individuals who have been to a special hell that only addicts and alcoholics know.
Some of them are still in their addiction; some are dead or in jail. Others are doing well and have been able to keep their addiction at bay. No matter where their station in life, they belong to a community of people who have shared an experience together which has bonded their spirits forever.
This community is not something I would have ever aspired to join, but I am grateful to have it just the same. I will be a life-long spirit of this community, and that is fine with me.