In many ways, recovery is an individual experience. Moving through recovery means becoming well-acquainted with your own thought processes and tendencies.

It is a time when you become highly attuned to why you are abusing drugs and alcohol, and a time to find ways to become the person you want to be.

Although much of recovery involves your own individual journey, the value of support systems cannot be underestimated. There are several reasons they are vital to recovery.

They help surround you with healthy individuals.

Severing ties with those who have had an unhealthy influence on you can be a difficult part of recovery. Often, while you are involved in substance abuse, you begin to shut out individuals who are not enabling you. Your life becomes filled with people who either abuse substances themselves or create unstable environments that trigger you to do so.

The people you encounter in 12-step and other support groups are, like you, actively working toward a healthy life and using the tools necessary to stay clean. Associating with other sober people helps you avoid triggers and remain focused on maintaining your sobriety.

They give you an opportunity to voice your struggles.

As with any important life change, the road to recovery is not always easy. Rather, as you continue to work on your recovery, you are likely to encounter many obstacles and challenges. A sober support group gives you the opportunity to talk through challenges.

Likely, others in the group will have encountered similar struggles and may have thoughts or insights on how to work through them. Talking through setbacks can also help avoid feelings of isolation, which may trigger things like depression, which put you at greater risk to use.

They provide healthy peer pressure.

Just as unhealthy people can drive you to use drugs and alcohol, a sober support group can help create pressure to make healthy choices. Attending meetings on a regular basis and maintaining a consistent dialogue with your sponsor means knowing that there are a great number of people who do not want you to relapse. This type of pressure can be very helpful as you work to stay clean.

They provide a lifeline during difficult times.

All recovering addicts face triggers throughout all stages of sobriety. Having access to a sponsor and a group of people you can turn to when you are tempted provides a healthy alternative to succumbing to triggers.

Life is full of unplanned events. There is no telling when you may face anger, sadness, or stress because of circumstances that are outside of your control. As you become accustomed to dealing with these feelings in a constructive way, you continue to strengthen your ability to maintain your sobriety, regardless of what life throws at you.

Ultimately, only you can walk the path of recovery, but the support groups and people you have around you are a wonderful and incredibly essential tool in helping you help yourself.