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Alcohol and Mental Health

Types of Social Support and How They Work

Published:
July 27, 2023
·
7 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 27, 2023
·
7 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 27, 2023
·
7 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 27, 2023
·
7 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
July 27, 2023
·
7 min read

Have you experienced times when you’ve reached out to a close friend to share your anxieties, and their empathetic words lightened your burdens? Has a well-timed piece of advice turned your confusion into clarity? These moments highlight the power of social support — the lifelines that help us survive tumultuous events with ease. Social support becomes all the more relevant when we're cutting back on alcohol or quitting altogether.

The Importance of Social Support

two people holding both hands

Changing our drinking habits is a personal endeavor that comes with its own unique set of challenges. This is where the remarkable power of social support steps in. It's not just a comforting presence —science backs its effectiveness, too. Research by Beattie and Longabaugh (1999) has shown that robust social support networks can predict successful treatment outcomes for those seeking to change their relationship with alcohol. 

Social support reassures us that we're part of a caring community and reminds us that the hurdles we face are not ours to tackle alone. Let’s look at the four different types. 

Emotional Support: A Healing Touch for the Heart

The first category of social support is emotional support. This includes elements of empathy, love, trust, and concern. It helps us feel heard, understood, and a little less anxious about the world around us. When changing our drinking habits, a nonjudgmental ear to hear our fears and frustrations can make the difference between feeling lost and feeling loved.

Types of Social Support

Esteem Support: The Power of Positive Affirmation

Next up is esteem support, which deals with affirming our worth and value. Esteem support is about being on the receiving end of positive feedback, words of encouragement, and acknowledgment of our efforts and accomplishments. It builds our self-esteem and resilience, two vital qualities as we navigate the tricky waters of alcohol reduction or sobriety. In essence, esteem support provides the positive reinforcement that nourishes our sense of self-worth.

Informational Support: Navigational Aid for Decision Making

Informational support involves sharing advice, suggestions, or knowledge that helps us in our decision-making process. This could include the latest research on strategies to manage cravings, professional counseling contacts, or information about local support groups. In the context of changing our drinking habits, being equipped with reliable information can make the journey less daunting and more manageable.

Tangible Support: Practical Assistance for Real Challenges

Last but not least is tangible support. It refers to physical help, such as financial aid, material resources, or services. This could be a friend offering to drive us to a support group meeting, a coworker bringing us a nutritious meal, or a family member caring for our children while we attend therapy. As we focus on cutting back on alcohol or quitting altogether, this kind of hands-on, practical assistance can significantly lighten our load and make our journey less burdensome.

Bringing It All Together

Social support in all its diverse forms can guide us toward a life less dependent on alcohol. Understanding the different types and knowing how to seek and provide them appropriately can enhance our ability to both give and receive support. It encourages us to lean on one another — to offer an understanding nod, to utter a word of encouragement, to share a piece of useful information, or to lend a helping hand to our friends, family, and even to ourselves. We are social beings who thrive best in a supportive community, whether we’re giving or receiving that support.

Have you experienced times when you’ve reached out to a close friend to share your anxieties, and their empathetic words lightened your burdens? Has a well-timed piece of advice turned your confusion into clarity? These moments highlight the power of social support — the lifelines that help us survive tumultuous events with ease. Social support becomes all the more relevant when we're cutting back on alcohol or quitting altogether.

The Importance of Social Support

two people holding both hands

Changing our drinking habits is a personal endeavor that comes with its own unique set of challenges. This is where the remarkable power of social support steps in. It's not just a comforting presence —science backs its effectiveness, too. Research by Beattie and Longabaugh (1999) has shown that robust social support networks can predict successful treatment outcomes for those seeking to change their relationship with alcohol. 

Social support reassures us that we're part of a caring community and reminds us that the hurdles we face are not ours to tackle alone. Let’s look at the four different types. 

Emotional Support: A Healing Touch for the Heart

The first category of social support is emotional support. This includes elements of empathy, love, trust, and concern. It helps us feel heard, understood, and a little less anxious about the world around us. When changing our drinking habits, a nonjudgmental ear to hear our fears and frustrations can make the difference between feeling lost and feeling loved.

Types of Social Support

Esteem Support: The Power of Positive Affirmation

Next up is esteem support, which deals with affirming our worth and value. Esteem support is about being on the receiving end of positive feedback, words of encouragement, and acknowledgment of our efforts and accomplishments. It builds our self-esteem and resilience, two vital qualities as we navigate the tricky waters of alcohol reduction or sobriety. In essence, esteem support provides the positive reinforcement that nourishes our sense of self-worth.

Informational Support: Navigational Aid for Decision Making

Informational support involves sharing advice, suggestions, or knowledge that helps us in our decision-making process. This could include the latest research on strategies to manage cravings, professional counseling contacts, or information about local support groups. In the context of changing our drinking habits, being equipped with reliable information can make the journey less daunting and more manageable.

Tangible Support: Practical Assistance for Real Challenges

Last but not least is tangible support. It refers to physical help, such as financial aid, material resources, or services. This could be a friend offering to drive us to a support group meeting, a coworker bringing us a nutritious meal, or a family member caring for our children while we attend therapy. As we focus on cutting back on alcohol or quitting altogether, this kind of hands-on, practical assistance can significantly lighten our load and make our journey less burdensome.

Bringing It All Together

Social support in all its diverse forms can guide us toward a life less dependent on alcohol. Understanding the different types and knowing how to seek and provide them appropriately can enhance our ability to both give and receive support. It encourages us to lean on one another — to offer an understanding nod, to utter a word of encouragement, to share a piece of useful information, or to lend a helping hand to our friends, family, and even to ourselves. We are social beings who thrive best in a supportive community, whether we’re giving or receiving that support.

Step Into Empowerment With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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