A support system is any individual or group of people that provides encouragement. Support systems are especially important in the journey of recovery.

Your support system can provide important emotional support, listening to your story and counseling you on the path to recovery. Support systems can help connect you to resources. In some cases they can also provide assistance with logistics such as housing, transportation or childcare.

The best way to identify these people is for you to think about the last time you needed advice or assistance with something. The people you want to turn to are a great place to start. Think about family members, friends, co-workers, professionals, and religious leaders may fit your definition of support.

It is natural to lean on different members of your support system for different things. For example, you may feel most comfortable talking to a coach if you're having a bad day, but if you need a healthy distraction you might call a friend.

Here are a few tips on how to identify people to include in your support network. Think about the feeling you have when you talk to this person …

  • When they talk or act, do they take your feelings and needs into account?

  • When they give advice, is it based on your well-being?

  • Do they tell you the truth, even when it is what you don’t want to hear?

  • Do they celebrate and share their joy when you succeed?

  • Do they encourage you?

  • Do you admire them?

It is easy to go to the negative and identify all of the people who have not been there in the past or who you have let down. It can take time to mend relationships, that is something you can work on moving forward.

If you're looking for support outside of your existing network there are a few options. Coaches can be a great as both a member of your support system and in strategizing to help you grow that system.

Sometimes your recovery journey will include a community-based support group like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or maybe SMART Recovery. Many people have found their support systems and built connections within these groups. 

Other people build support systems through sober living or sober programming. These are ways of connecting with people with similar experiences. While each person is on their own recovery path, they can help each other when experiencing triggers, urges, and cravings. In addition, others in the group may have real-life experience and successful methods of addressing these situations.

In life, but especially in recovery, it is really important to surround yourself with positive people that you can trust to be there for you along the way. The connections with these people will be the building blocks that lead to success and help you see a positive future.