The opposite of addiction is connection. September is recovery month; a time to celebrate recovery and the connections it brings. A successful recovery is built on the ritual of connection, both in formal and informal ways. Rituals of connection deepen and strengthen intimate relationships in the same way that they form the backbone of a successful 12-step program.
Human beings crave and are designed to connect with others. Disconnection precipitates addictions, obsessive behaviors, anxiety, and depression. Yet in a society where technology has allowed us to be more connected than ever before, we are more isolated and disconnected than ever before. This lack of connection can be easily observed at your next restaurant outing. Look around at how many people are at the table distracted by their phones, instead of fostering meaningful connection. Maintaining connection takes conscious effort and consistency. New relationships are easier to maintain. Attraction, exhilaration, and intrigue provide the dopamine rush that leaves us chasing and wanting more. But what happens when the novelty wears off? The sustainability of relationships depends on rituals of connection.
What are the rituals of connections in your relationship? Rituals need not be grand, expensive, unsustainable romantic gestures. It might be teatime and a cuddle after the kids have gone to bed, a nightly stress-reducing conversation, family mealtime at the table, or a kiss before leaving the house. These examples are all brief opportunities to deepen your connection and create shared meaning. Deeper connections and shared meaning cultivate greater relationship satisfaction and deeper commitment to the relationship. Take the time to discuss your rituals with your partner. Do you understand each other’s dreams? What is your partner’s love language? Discuss your preferred rituals and formulate a plan of action.
The commitment and consistency required for successful relationships is mirrored in a successful recovery program. For many, reaching out and creating new relationships with a sponsor or others in the program can be a daunting experience. For some, the challenge is doing the ego check and embracing the importance of calling a sponsor…again. Focus on the end goal of successful recovery and satisfaction within the program and the relationships it brings. Recovery success isn’t always linear. There will be moments of reverting back to old behavior. A bad day does not make a bad recovery any more than a bad day means divorce.
Examine your rituals of connection with your home group and other support network members, just as recommended in your intimate relationship. Rituals of connection within the program can become a means of relapse prevention. What rituals do you value? Share your gratitude and appreciation for your recovery team in the spirit of recovery month.
Claudine Knox, MS, NCC
Lead Therapist & Admissions Supervisor