The Benefits of Peer Support in Addiction Recovery
When going through a painful chapter in life, the last thing anyone wants to experience is the feeling that they are alone on this journey. Luckily, peer support groups exist to help individuals regardless of the struggles they are facing. In addiction recovery, peer support is crucial to maintaining sobriety. According to Mead and Solomon, peer support is the “process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance to achieve long-term recovery” allowing peers to “offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities, communities of support, and other people.” Peer support has been proven to maximize the likelihood of participants restraining from further abuse of alcohol and drugs.
What Peer Support Offers:
Encouragement to stay clean
When surrounded by others that have been in your shoes and are currently experiencing similar emotions and challenges as you are, it strengthens one’s desire to stay on track. Building one another up and offering the “If I can do it, so can you” support is immensely inspirational for recovering addicts.
The break down of shame and built up walls
When recovering from an addiction, many people withhold feelings of guilt and shame and are afraid to talk about their past and current feelings. Having a peer support group to turn to ensures a judgment-free space where individuals are able to open up about their state of mind freely. Holding things in and ignoring red flags is incredibly dangerous for recovering addicts, and anyone with mental health struggles.
Development of friendships with shared values
One of the greatest attributes to peer support groups is the opportunity to establish relationships with other like-minded individuals. It is not uncommon for those who have dealt with addiction to have many friends that are users and bad influences on their newfound sober life. To ensure sobriety, it is necessary to have a circle of friends that are supportive and encouraging of your personal goals, which are found in peer support groups.
A sense of belonging in your community
Getting involved in peer support groups during recovery allows individuals to remain involved in the lives of others, breaking down the feelings of isolation addiction can bring. Realizing you are not in this battle alone is not only comforting but essential to recognize while on your path to healing.
Where to find peer support systems:
Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA is the longest running and most widely known peer support group for addicts in recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous is a free to attend association that meets daily all around the globe, composed of individuals who have dealt with alcoholism and have a goal to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.” Not only are there groups for alcoholics, but there is also NA, narcotics anonymous, CA, cocaine anonymous, and MA, marijuana anonymous, and more. These groups unite individuals with similar backgrounds allowing them to share, grow, and learn from one another as a community.
SMART Recovery, standing for Self-Management and Recovery Training, is another free program that meets worldwide to offer support and encouragement to individuals abstaining from alcohol or substance abuse. In SMART Recovery participants are exposed to ways to transition self-destructive lifestyles into positive, healthy, lifelong habits.
If you are someone you love is struggling with an alcohol or nonprescription drug addiction reach out today. Treatment centers are offering both professional and peer support, as well as the mentioned support groups that are designed to guide and bring a sense of belonging to those experiencing difficulty. Know, however, that peer support groups do not offer the detox and professional assistance that treatment centers do. Everyone is on a different path and at various stages, desiring whichever option works best for them. Peer support has been proven to enhance the lives of recovering addicts and keep them on their desired track, so regardless of the path you chose to take know you are taking a massive step toward a better life.
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery drug and alcohol rehab center and has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years now with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for Boston Consulting Group before he realized where his true passion lied within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.