When you make the decision to break free from the hold alcohol and drugs have on you, you’re going to have to find alternative coping mechanisms for dealing with everyday stressors. While there are definitely people and practices that provide a healthy outlet for you, there are also factors that act more as crutches, preventing you from truly addressing your addiction and its underlying causes.

In order to have a successful recovery from substance abuse, it’s important to understand if you’re placing your faith in a proper support system or on a crutch.

Understanding the Difference Between a Support System and Crutch

What is the Main Difference?

A support system allows you to address the underlying causes of your addiction and be there to help you stay on the right path on the more difficult days of your recovery journey. A crutch allows you to continue feeling the same effect drugs or alcohol provided you with — meaning you aren’t requiring yourself to find newer, healthier coping mechanisms.

Examples of Support Systems and Crutches

Support Systems

As mentioned, a support system is there for you on the bad days — you still need to address the real reasons you turned to substances on your own. A support system may be made up of family members, friends, significant others, therapists, or other people also recovering from addiction.

An example of this kind of support would be: You had a very stressful day at work. In the past, you would go home and have a few drinks to decompress, but now, you are sober. Rather than risk your recovery, you call up a friend and meet them for coffee to discuss your days together.


Since crutches often act as fillers for alcohol and drugs, people put them in place to fill voids substances once did, rather than develop healthier coping mechanisms. Common crutches include nicotine, caffeine, junk food, and romantic relationships.

An example of a crutch would be: A main reason you turned to substances was to quell feelings of inadequacy. Rather than develop better self-esteem through therapy, you seek out romantic relationships to give you a sense of importance and wanting that you’re craving. While you’re not necessarily using substances, you’re replacing them with these relationships, never addressing your deeper issues.

Adult Substance Abuse Treatment in North Carolina

Silver Ridge is a premier addiction program in Asheville, serving midlife adults struggling with drugs or alcohol in North Carolina and the surrounding areas.

If you’re ready to take your first step towards recovery, contact us today.