In a highly individualistic society, we increasingly lack the support and security of extended family and community. Many addictions, especially those involving alcoholism and drug abuse, provide nonthreatening contact with others and numb our feelings of insecurity.
During addiction treatment, many people seek out a sense of community and belonging to fill a void they were trying to fill previously with addictive behaviors. This is why it is no coincidence that the self-help movement has been so successful in fostering the recovery of countless addicts. A crucial component of many addiction treatment programs is the sense of fellowship and community that they offer. The camaraderie is something for which many people in modern-day American society seem to yearn.
Using Established Resources to Find a Sense of Community
We often cling to certain resources as a means of connecting with others. These resources include:
- Social institutions
The trouble is that these resources often fail in delivering us the emotional and social support necessary to muster courage and strength to face the stressors in our own lives. Having sufficient emotional, physical and social support in our lives brings out the best in any of us. This is why forming strong relationships and becoming part of a recovery-oriented community can help so much during the addiction treatment process. To become part of a community is to let go of the internal expectation that you must always do everything on your own.
Too often it develops that we are all working against each other. We feel we cannot count on anyone else but ourselves, and this creates profound feelings of alienation and insecurity. This is part of an “every man or women for him(her)self” mentality, and is often looked at as a form of “rugged individualism,” or to use Darwin’s terms, survival of the fittest. This increasing individualism frustrates our desire for community and leaves us more vulnerable to addiction. Growing insecurities, feelings of loneliness and helplessness and our own yearning for community each contribute to our vulnerability to alcoholism and abuse.