Just as a person’s childhood environment can affect the potential for future developed dependency on addictive substances or behaviors, a person’s environment can influence their treatment process and chances of maintaining recovery. In many cases, someone’s environment allows for easier access to drugs, alcohol, or social situations that may trigger a relapse. For example, a person who has been engaging in recreational drug use with their roommates should not continue residing with those roommates. Someone who lives close to a liquor store or bar that they often frequented might consider alternative travel routes to avoid those establishments. They may also consider finding a different place to live altogether if possible.
It’s important to make any necessary changes that can help you maintain sobriety. At Lakehouse Recovery Center, our therapists and case managers will work with you to take your life to where you want it to be. Along with our relapse prevention program, teaching the skills necessary to make life changes, and providing a support system or sober community, your path to recovery can begin today.
Socioeconomic Environments That Might Put You at Risk
Where a person lives is not always something they have control over. Growing up, we go where our parent or guardian goes. If we’re in a relationship, we sometimes go wherever our significant other goes. Then there are the necessary choices that affect where a person lives: housing costs, socioeconomic status, career opportunities, a need to return home to care for a sick relative — the reasons are endless.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published an article on environmental justice research, examining risky substance use environments. The goal of environmental justice research is to “investigate, if how, and why environmental risks are distributed inequitably with regards to race and socioeconomic status.” This research primarily dealt with topics like access to health resources, nutritious foods, or recreational activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. However, researchers have begun transitioning this research in recent years to help explain correlations between these environments and struggles with dependency.
Fostering Positive Recovery
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a pamphlet describing the ten guiding principles of recovery. They define recovery from mental disorders or substance use disorders as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA emphasized four major facets that support recovery, including:
- Health: managing one’s illnesses, such as abstaining from substances and making careful decisions that promote a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle
- Home: revolves around creating a safe and stable environment to live in
- Purpose: focuses on daily activities that give a person a sense of independence and intention, including a job, school, family responsibilities, or anything that makes the individual feel fulfilled
- Community: building, maintaining, and sometimes mending the relationships of those in your support system is essential to create a social network that provides love and support for your recovery
Environmental Guiding Principles
In addition to these four factors, a few of SAMHSA’s ten guiding principles revolved around the fact that recovery is:
- Supported by peers and allies: Individuals who experience similar situations, and social learning together, are essential in recovery. Peers encourage, provide a sense of belonging, shared values, and a supportive community. It’s a mutual relationship because as your peers provide you with love and support, they experience the sense of purpose discussed above. Allies can include therapists and case managers, who offer clinical support in recovery, or friends and families, who provide support in social and home-life environments.
- Supported through relationships and social networks: Like peers and allies, a key to maintaining recovery is filling your environment with those who believe in your ability to recover. This support can include offering hope, encouragement, resources, or even just being a soundboard for someone to talk about their fears, struggles, and doubtful thoughts that may be circling their heads. These relationships and social networks provide empowerment, belonging, and purpose, all of which benefit the recovery process.
- Culturally based and influenced: Cultural background makes up a person’s values, traditions, beliefs, and critical facets of a person’s pathway to recovery. As they meet each person’s individualized beliefs, they should meet each person’s individualized recovery needs.
While these are just a few of the ten guiding principles, they all affect the environment a person chooses to be in. There are two schools of thought regarding the term “environment.” There’s the physical environment you may not be able to control, revolving around, for example, socioeconomics, and there’s the environment you can control, which includes the people you surround yourself with. By establishing a peer community and keeping close to those in your life who provide love, support, and encouragement, the possibilities of maintaining long-term recovery are endless.
Many of the environmental factors that affect us throughout our lives cannot be controlled. Socioeconomics, region, and opportunity often decide the life choices we make. However, the term “environment” doesn’t just refer to our physical surroundings. An environment with copious access to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive agents doesn’t promote positive recovery. Your environment also includes the people and support system you surround yourself with. Those are factors you can control. By surrounding yourself with peers enduring similar struggles as you, supportive and encouraging friends and family members, as well as trained professionals who can offer clinic support in your treatment, the chances of maintaining long-term recovery increase exponentially. At Lakehouse Recovery, we strive to provide a support system of peers and clinically trained professionals. Our virtual programs also offer an undeniably apparent culture among our patients. To learn more about our support and culture, please call us at (877) 762-3707. You or someone you love can start a path to recovery today.