Support Systems: Creating + Using Them
As we intentionally cultivate a relationship with ourselves, it is also imperative to tap into existing support networks and build new ones where they are lacking. When we remove alcohol from our lives it can often feel isolating, and having others to lean on when challenges arise is an important tool in our toolbox. If we have existing support networks, we begin navigating those relationships now that we do not drink alcohol, teaching them how they can support us in AF life. We may also want to connect with a like-minded community through alcohol-free peers. Finally, we build a team of professionals who we can turn to when we need their assistance.
Trusted Family + Friends
Navigating existing relationships with trusted family and friends in alcohol-free living can be a little tricky at first, as they may not always anticipate our choice to remove alcohol. However, these support networks are often the most important in our arsenal. Connect with supportive family and friends often, and try to be candid about how they can support you. Let them know what is and isn’t helpful, what signs of stress to look for, and share how you’re feeling with them. This group wants to see you succeed and are there for you to lean on.
We live in a culture where abstaining from alcohol is not the norm, so sometimes it can feel like we’re the only ones in the room who aren’t drinking. If you feel alone in your choices, it may be beneficial to connect with others walking the same path. There are many in-person and online alcohol-free communities, with a wide variety of outlooks on AF life. When we dip our toes into these communities, we see that we aren’t alone at all. There’s a vibrant community waiting to connect with you.
Mental Health Professionals + Doctors
An important part of our AF toolbox may include medical and mental health professionals. Addressing our physical and emotional needs gives us a solid foundation to build on, and their guidance can be helpful. We may have been avoiding ailments or self-medicating problems with alcohol, and addressing these issues alongside trained professionals can be empowering. They can also help with supportive lifestyle changes like nutrition, exercise, and medication.