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The Importance of Role Models in Addiction Recovery

People who have developed an addiction may have many people and situations in their life that help perpetuate the cycle. They might have friends and family members that also use and they have habits and places that they go that cause them to continue their substance abuse. When someone chooses to recover it is critical that they find a new and more positive role model to help them focus on sobriety.

Negative role models can be a problematic part of addiction. Addicts can have people in their lives that bring them down because they want a drinking or drug buddy around or simply because they are toxic. In recovery the addict will need to distance themselves from these people and find a role model that is healthy and supportive of their recovery.

Importance of Role Models

The right role models can mean the difference between falling back into hold habits and making important changes that lead to healthier decisions. Role models provide motivation, encouragement and most significantly, a healthy way of life that an addict can imitate or follow. Addiction recovery requires a support system with different kinds of interactions and role models are central to the right kind of support.

What Makes a Good Role Model

People in recovery often have lost control of their behavior and their lives have become unmanageable. Having a role model gives them someone to look up to and someone they can model their life after. They can give the person motivation and hope for a better future by looking to them for encouragement.

Ideally a role model will be someone who has been through issues of addiction themselves and has overcome them by being sober for many years. It could also be someone who has a deep understanding of addiction such as a counselor or therapist who can guide the addict into changes. Examples of role models can be:

  • A sponsor who has successfully completed an addiction program and is active in the recovery community
  • Someone in AA meetings or in the recovery community who offers guidance and advice
  • A counselor with many years of experience in addiction therapy
  • A close friend or family member who is supportive of a sober lifestyle
  • A public figure who has openly discussed their addiction struggles and recovery

Whoever the role model may be it is important that they are sober or choose to never drink or use drugs around you. They need to be supportive of your new lifestyle and will always motivate and encourage you to make healthy choices. A good role model can give you an idea of how to structure a healthy lifestyle that does not center around drugs or alcohol.

Choosing a Role Model and Developing a Relationship

When you look for a role model, it should also be someone that you feel you have a personal connection with. You shouldn’t choose someone simply because they are popular but instead focus on your ability to have a positive relationship with them. The connection that you feel with them can help motivate you and bring you closer to your goals through their influence.

It is also important to choose someone who is available for help and is willing to provide you with support and encouragement. Someone who is too busy or who has too many other priorities will not be the best choice for a role model. It also needs to be someone who will be there for you and give you sound advice that applies to your own life.

A good role model will be a positive influence in your life and they will encourage you to be more active in the recovery community. They may help boost your self-esteem, give you something to work toward and inspire you to keep going when you are struggling. As your relationship develops you will bond over shared experiences and they will feel a sense of pride in helping you become a happier and more stable person.

Avoiding Poor Role Models

In addition to finding a positive role model, it is also important to avoid being around people that bring you down and may trigger you to use again. Old drinking buddies, negative friends or people who have failed to find happiness in recovery may be toxic to your progress. There are plenty of people who are sober but still are full of negative thinking and resentment.

It is important to have realistic expectations of what a role model can do for you and use the positive things they can teach you in a practical way. You shouldn’t expect a role model to do all the work for you. A good role model inspires you to put in your own hard work to change your life and develop a healthier lifestyle.


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