For individuals struggling with the disease of addiction, it may be hard for them to picture living a sober, clean life. Throughout a normal day, there can be numerous pitfalls and temptations that could result in a relapse of substance abuse. A huge component of an individual’s continued sober-living is the strength of the support system that surrounds them.

A support system is defined as a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support. These people can be family members, friends, a sponsor or others trying to live substance-free. A support system is created to provide connection for an individual learning what it means to live sober. Support can come in the form of positive encouragement about the individual’s journey, or simply being a listening ear.

Very few people can quit using a substance “cold turkey” and never relapse with substance abuse. Rather, for someone to continue with a healthy lifestyle they often need determination, drive and a group of people supporting the individual’s sober living.

Aside from family, close friends or an individual’s sponsor, some individuals recovering from substance abuse choose to live in sober living communities. The facility acts as an in between location to reinforce lessons learned during rehab and as a safe space for those not quite sure what to do next. The support system created in these facilities is unique because they are made up of individuals going through similar struggles.

So how can someone be an effective supporter of an individual working on overcoming his or her substance abuse problem?

First, be a positive influence in the individual’s life. Just knowing that there are people who want to encourage an individual going through recovery is a huge component. Take into account that you can be an influential source in an individual’s journey by merely being present and willing to listen. In addition to this, know what are appropriate boundaries that should be set between an individual in recovery and yourself so your actions do not become a stumbling block for that individual. You could make a difference in someone’s recovery journey.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, there are free, 24/7 resources at the TN Redline. Call 1-800-889-9789 for confidential help with substance abuse.