Today, there are more than 23 million people in need of help to overcome drug and alcohol addiction, and only a small fraction of them are actively seeking recovery. Part of the reason for this is an overwhelming lack of support from others. Addiction has become so stigmatized in recent years that it is often treated more as a fault of character than as the disease it really is. As a result, those who struggle with addiction— and their faith— are often left to struggle alone.
Building a strong support system is a vital part of the addiction recovery process, especially for Christian addicts. Having a positive support system of fellow Christians to turn to during recovery, both during and after rehab, can mean the difference between sobriety and relapse.
The Importance of Meeting Other Christians in Recovery
You might like to believe that you are “strong enough” to overcome addiction without help, but this misconception will inevitably sabotage your efforts to get sober. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the best method of effective addiction recovery involves utilizing some sort of support service. This might include your rehab’s treatment team, local community-based programs, or a social support system consisting of your peers, family, friends and other members of the faith community. A positive peer network provides support, understanding, encouragement, and hope while tearing down any barriers in the way of your recovery. So, building a fellowship is necessary for sobriety.
Fellowship As Shown in the Bible
Fellowship is defined as a unified body of people who share the same interest, goals, and characteristics. From a Christian perspective, fellowship with other Christians is not only beneficial for people in recovery but is also a command given by God in His Word. In the Bible, God calls the modern church to fellowship with each other and with Him. The early church was an example of this, as Acts 2:42-44 states:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
The Bible also states that there is strength in numbers, an idea that can easily apply to addiction recovery. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 says:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”
Finally, God’s Word states that people together help each other become better. This idea is a universal one even outside of religion. For those trying to become better friends, better Christians or simply better people, the act of supporting one another is the best way to be successful— especially in addiction recovery. This idea is illustrated in Proverbs 27:17 which says:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
With all this in mind, it’s important to note that building a strong support system— a fellowship— will strengthen your chances of a successful recovery and reduce the likelihood of relapse.
Emotional and Mental Relapse
You probably think of relapse as drinking or using drugs after a period of sobriety. While this is true, physical relapse isn’t the first (or only) thing that occurs. Many people struggling in the early stages of recovery tend to experience emotional and mental relapse prior to using drugs or alcohol again. Signs of emotional or mental relapse may include:
- Minimizing the consequences of relapse
- Disrupted eating and sleeping habits
- Failure to go to meetings or share
- Seeking relapse opportunities
- Ruminating about past use
- Lying to yourself or others
- Bottled up emotions
- Withdrawn behavior
- Feelings of isolation
- Poor self-care
Having a strong network of supportive Christians in recovery can help you avoid or better handle the emotional and mental triggers that initiate physical relapse. With this kind of support, you stand a better chance of achieving lasting sobriety.
How to Meet Christians in Recovery
Building a support network of like-minded peers is a necessity for addiction recovery. But for a recovering addict of faith, what is the best way to find others?
Consider the following places to meet and build a fellowship with other Christians in addiction recovery.
Before you actually set out to meet anyone, pray to God. The Lord already knows what you need and who to send your way, but He needs you to reach out to Him, ask for His will to be done and trust that He will answer your prayers. And remember, while it is important to seek the comfort and support of others who have been in your shoes, it’s even more important to re-establish your relationship with your faith and with God. As Matthew 18:20 says:
“For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them, it is important we seek Him, not just others for fellowship.”
Many people of faith find that they can develop long-lasting, supportive relationships with other Christians they meet in a treatment setting. Because you are at more or less the same stage of treatment, it’s easy to empathize and push each other to make progress. Following addiction treatment, you can keep in touch, attend meetings together and help each other maintain sobriety during the transition back into routine life.
Volunteering for Faith-Based Causes
Two of the most effective ways to avoid relapse triggers are to stay active or to give back to the community in some way. As a Christian in recovery, you can do both by volunteering your time and support to faith-based causes. Doing this will give you a stronger chance of finding and making connections with other Christians who are also in recovery.
12-Step Meetings and Christian Support Groups
Attending 12-step meetings or peer support groups is one of the most common ways to stay focused on recovery and rebuild your social network. It’s also important to note that 12-step meetings have roots in Christianity. While there are plenty of Christians in recovery that trust their ongoing sobriety to a higher power, some groups take a more secular approach by attending these kinds of meetings. If you decide to try a support group like the 12-steps meetings, be sure to open up, be honest and remember that you all have the same goal— so offer support to them just as they may support you.
Meeting other Christians in recovery through sponsorships is also a good way to fortify your social network. While it may seem a bit more awkward to discuss the subject at first, the natural course of conversation about life will usually reveal an individual’s beliefs and history.
Church and Bible Study
The church welcomes people from all walks of life. People who attend church— especially those in addiction recovery— are both strengthening their social network and improving their relationship with the Lord. By finding a church, attending regular services, and going to Bible study, you’re more likely to meet and befriend others in a more casual setting. You also have the option to ask the church leadership about addiction support resources available within the church. You might be surprised how easy it is to find other Christians in recovery with the support and backing of the church.
Build Your Support Network with Help from Road to Freedom
Whether you’re at a comfortable point in your recovery or having difficulty trying to maintain your sobriety, establishing a support system of other Christians in recovery ensures that you’ll receive the support, love and hope that you need to progress. Along the way, you’ll be able to better fortify your faith in God and learn more about His Word. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and would benefit from meeting other Christians in recovery, contact Road to Freedom today at (844) 402-3605 to speak to one of our Christian addiction specialists. We’re available 24/7 to help you.