It Takes a Community for Recovery

How the Recovery Community Works

It’s been said that it takes a community for recovery to flourish and we believe it. We have seen the evidence with our own eyes of course. We all know there is power in numbers and the recovery community proves that old adage as much as anything. So how does the recovery community work and why does it work? How does the loosely knit tribe of people involved in 12-step programs and staying sober one day at a time across the country and around the world help support the recovery lifestyle?

Attraction, Not Promotion

One way the recovery community helps ‘newcomers’ is simply living by example. Walking the walk, you might say. When people in early recovery hear the stories of people just like them and people who hit even lower bottoms than they could imagine, and they see those people today, it gives them hope. Hang around the rooms of recovery for just a few weeks and you will see more than a few walking miracles. People who by all common sense should never have survived their harrowing addiction ordeals. Yet they did. They not only survived, they are thriving today. There’s no way to overestimate the power that fact has to inspire others and help them believe that no matter how steep the climb may seem, they can do it too.

The attraction, not promotion part is key though. What that means in essence is, no one is pushed or cajoled into recovery. The recovery community is welcoming and inclusive, but we don’t chase after people and try to shove our ideas down their throats. That doesn’t work and it’s against the founding principles of AA, the original 12-step fellowship. The attraction part of that phrase is what works. The recovery community attracts more members by simply existing and presenting a solution to what seemed like an impossible problem. Recovery isn’t easy, but it is simple in terms what the goals are and what you need to do to attain them. That’s part of the beauty of it. Recovery and the recovery community are for anyone who has an honest desire to stop letting alcohol or drugs rule their lives.

What’s the Clinical Explanation of the Effect of the Recovery Community Though?

Some of the more science-minded and logic driven people in the audience may be wondering how the whole recovery community thing works and why it works. In clinical terms, recovery from addiction is a process of unlearning the old and relearning new ways of doing things. The recovery community helps in that process by providing people with someone else who can help them unlearn the behavior patterns their addiction taught them. This is done through sponsorship and working the 12 steps which are basically just a set of rules or principles to live your life by that are based on honesty, humility, and service to others (among other things).

The recovery community also provides an important source of accountability. Knowing that somebody else is there holding you accountable to your recovery goals can be a powerful motivator when times get tough. By surrounding yourself with peers who have all been where you are now and have managed to succeed gives you strength and courage you may not know you possess.

The Recovery Community in a Nutshell

Ultimately, recovery can be a lonely process if attempted alone. It’s much easier when you have a group of people who understand what it takes to stay sober and can help you get there one day at a time. That’s how the recovery community works and why it works. It offers hope for recovery for everyone who needs it. So the fellowships offer camaraderie and accountability but also a support system and structure for the sponsorship process to exist within the community so people can work the 12 steps, which is the DNA of recovery after all. You might think of the community and the fellowships as a vehicle for delivering the message, but also a wide, inclusive tent for us all to gather beneath. A place to find shelter from the storm and protection. And most importantly, answers and freedom.


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