There’s no one path to wellbeing — many support systems exist to help you on your healing journey.
Whether you’re deciding to manage your own recovery, want to attend weekly meetings, or check in to a structured inpatient program, multiple programs and resources exist to help you build community in this new way of life. Explore how the following options can support you as you move forward.
What does a path to recovery look like?
Recovery from substance use looks different for everyone. It can involve everything from traditional healing practices to therapy and medication. Many of the options listed here have been used in Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Afrolatinx communities for centuries, and they are still helping people heal today.
If you’re ready to make a change, you’ll find many recovery options available to you — and you don’t have to choose just one. Different things work for different people, so try a variety of options and combinations until you find what works for you. Your healing journey could include:
Physical and mental wellbeing are closely linked. Mind-body approaches to recovery combine the two, promoting both physical and emotional healing.
Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to focus on the present moment. As you navigate your recovery journey, you'll face challenges — and they might be the same challenges that have driven you to substance use. Making meditation part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine, or even practicing it every now and then, can help you slow down and calm your nervous system, reduce your stress level, and help you manage your emotions. Many people find that it takes time (weeks to months) of practicing meditation to feel the calming benefits. Others may feel the benefits right away. Many free meditation videos and apps are available online.
Exercise and Fitness
Regular exercise also contributes to your physical and mental wellbeing, whether you’re walking, working out, or playing a team sport. Exercise isn’t just a way to strengthen your muscles — it can also improve your mood, outlook, and mental health by reducing stress and releasing endorphins. It can give you something healthy to focus on when you’re tempted to use. For support, check out The Phoenix, a national exercise community for people in recovery.
During your recovery, you’ll have moments where you feel stressed, emotional, or overwhelmed. A creative outlet can distract you from your symptoms and help you process your emotions.
Grab a pen and paper or open your notes app. Try journaling, writing poetry, or writing stories to work through complex feelings. Writing can be a solo activity, or you can connect with other writers through a writers group. If you’re not sure where to start, check online for writing prompts. As you write, you may uncover new insights about yourself that can steer you toward a healthier future.
Art or craft projects
Like to draw, paint, collage, sculpt, sew, knit, or make videos? Creative projects like these are a healthy way to reconnect with yourself, manage stress, and develop your skills.
Music has therapeutic benefits, whether you’re playing an instrument, writing a song, or listening to a great album. Music can help you relax, connect with your emotions, and express yourself.
Theater and dance
Drama and dance can help you express your emotions, build your self-esteem, and connect with other creative people.
Recovery is an opportunity to reflect on who you are and who you want to be. You may find value in reconnecting with your roots and building community with others who understand you (based on things like your culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or spirituality, or role in your family).
Research cultural or ancestral traditions
Reclaiming one's family and ancestral history can be part of a successful recovery journey. This could involve talking with elders, learning about traditional healing practices and ceremonies, visiting ancestral lands, or researching your family history. For example, curanderismo is a form of folk healing that treats the mind, body, and spirit holistically.
Consider impacts of racism and racial trauma
Reflecting on racism and racial trauma that you, your loved ones, and your communities have experienced can be complex and soul-stirring work. If you choose to explore the impact of this form of discrimination on your healing journey, it’s important to be gentle with yourself.
For support addressing racist comments and incidents, you may find it helpful to join a therapeutic group, or seek wisdom from community elders, healers, and activist leaders. As you navigate your recovery journey, find healing spaces that welcome you without discrimination. It may take time to find them.
Reflect on other traumas related to your identity
Likewise, you may find it healing to reflect, explore, and heal from trauma you have experienced in your life based on who you are, such as your gender, your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs. Connecting with others who have similar experiences or seeking support can help you navigate these experiences and feelings.
Whether faith and spirituality are already part of your life, or you’re embracing them for the first time, connecting with a higher power or purpose can be a way to find stability, focus, and meaning.
Finding guidance in the divine
Belief in a higher power can give you a sense of direction and inner strength during your recovery. Some support groups and 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, take a faith-based approach that you may find helpful.
Exploring non-religious spirituality
Even if you aren’t religious, you may benefit from making spirituality part of your life. Spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and spending time in nature can lower your stress level and help you find inner peace. Energy work can be a good way to organize, process, and regulate your emotions and reduce stress.
Connect with people who have similar values, backgrounds, experiences and identities as you — or who are different from you but have similar goals. Building a social circle around something other than alcohol or other drug use will support you on your wellbeing journey.
If you create and follow your own recovery plan, it’s known as self-managed recovery. You’re most likely to succeed if you’re highly motivated to heal and you have access to resources, a support network, and a doctor or therapist to help guide you. A self-managed recovery plan may include watching your favorite TV show, exercise, meditation, and self-expression through music or art.
To meet others in recovery and learn from their experiences, join self-help and support groups, or reach out to a peer support specialist. Group meetings, held both in person and online, are typically led by a trained facilitator. They offer safe spaces to heal, build community, and share resources, successes, frustrations, and more. Peer support specialists are people with lived experience who offer one-on-one counseling or lead support groups for people in recovery. You may find these resources helpful:
- Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have a spiritual foundation, while Smart Recovery takes a scientific approach.
- Learn to Cope offers virtual meetings for the Latinx community.
- BEAM offers online programs for Black folks.
- SAFE Project has various mental health resources for the Black community.
- Black Faces Black Voices focuses on wellness and recovery for Black communities.
- The Harm Reduction Community works together to achieve equity and social justice for people in recovery.
Talking with a therapist can help you process everyday life, including situations at work and school, and relationships with family, friends and loved ones. It can also help you learn more about yourself, untangle your emotions, and begin processing traumatic experiences. If you have used substances as a way to manage stress or anxiety, exploring your mental health with a trusted therapist will help you find healthier ways to cope, tools for identifying triggers, and guidance around setting boundaries.
If you have never talked with a trained therapist before, you may be reluctant to share your personal feelings and experiences with a stranger. Also, remember that the first therapist you meet may not be a good match for you. Many people find that they need to meet a number of different therapists before finding someone who feels “right.” The following organizations will connect you with therapists who listen and understand:
Withdrawal management is the process of tapering off of a substance you no longer want to use. When your body has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, it can be dangerous or even deadly to stop using too quickly, so it’s important to take it slow. There are generally two types of withdrawal management: medically managed or social, which forgoes medical interventions for room, board, and interpersonal support.
For withdrawal support from opioids, you can also ask your doctor about medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD).
For alcohol and many other substances, withdrawal management helps to ease some of the emotional and physical symptoms you may experience if you suddenly stop using.
When prescribed and supervised by a doctor, medication can help to stabilize your life and increase your wellbeing. FDA-approved medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can help ease potential pain, nausea, cravings, and other discomforts as you stop using.
Residential rehabilitation programs are live-in healthcare facilities that provide a structured setting for recovery. While you live at the location, you receive multiple treatment and therapy styles, like talk therapy, art therapy, education, medication, and more. You focus on healing in a supportive environment with trained staff and other people starting their wellbeing journeys. These programs can be expensive, but your health insurance may cover them. Call your health insurance company to obtain a list of providers in your local area that take your coverage.
Supportive housing is designed for people in recovery who need both housing and access to support services. These houses or apartment buildings provide an encouraging environment to support you in building healthier patterns and living a substance-free life. You’ll typically be in a community with other folks on their path to recovery.
Find and compare treatment facilities
Whether you're wondering what type of treatment is right for you, searching for treatment programs, or looking to hear from others in recovery, the following resources can help you find answers.
To identify addiction treatment providers in your area, visit:
- Shatterproof Treatment Atlas
- Opioid Treatment Program Directory
- Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator
As you compare facilities, you may find it helpful to:
- Read the 11 Indicators of Quality Addiction Treatment
- Filter for LGBTQIA+ supportive facilities or facilities that serve certain age or cultural groups
- Review their services, practices, and accreditations
- Check what insurance or payment options are accepted
- Find additional support for you or your loved ones
Call SAMHSA's National Helpline
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