Social Connection, Wellness and Recovery

photo credit: davegray
photo credit: davegray

DJ Mac posted some research on the relationships between social connection and wellness and recovery.

When Julianne Holt-Lunstad and colleagues published their gargantuan meta-analysis of mortality risks in 2010 they found a ’50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships.’ In this paper it looked like this was a stronger predictor of long healthy life than stopping smoking and we know that smoking-related disease kills half of smokers.

So, if having plenty of quality social connections is good for the next person in the street, is it also true for people trying to recover from addictive disorders?

Mark Litt and colleagues from the University of Connecticut conducted a randomised trial on alcoholics in treatment. These patients either had case management, contingency management AND social network, or simply social network connection interventions. The ones connected to sober social networks did better than the other groups. One mind-blowing statistic coming out of this was that ‘the addition of just abstinent person to a social network increased the probability of abstinence for the next year by 27%.

It got me reflecting (again) on the similarities between addiction treatment rooted in Recovery Management and lifestyle medicine–that the behavioral changes we’re trying to facilitate have impact far beyond the presenting problem–they address wellness, not just symptom reduction.

This video is a great illustration of how behavioral strategies for chronic illnesses can have broad and deep reach.