Content Reviewed by Jennifer Wheeler, Clinical & Community Outreach
In times of difficulty, the support of friends is invaluable. In drug or alcohol addiction recovery, you need all of the support you can get. Your family is so important, and your friends are, too. Yet there is no substitute for the support from your peers in recovery. Those who have similar stories and can understand where you are coming from will become the most important source of support for you.
The Common Bond of Those in Recovery
Soldiers who are stationed together in times of adversity grow closer together because they have shared, common experiences. Those in treatment for substance abuse may also experience many similar challenges, and friendships can form that bind you together for life. Your peers in treatment will have common bonds with you that no one else will.
Other peers who are in recovery also share common bonds because they, too, have survived addiction, then detox, treatment, and now know the daily challenges and triumphs of recovery. No one understands drug and alcohol addiction recovery better than those who are in similar circumstances. These commonalities will help to create deep, meaningful bonds that make them your first line of support.
Tough Love, Listening Ears and No Judgments in Support Groups
Your sponsor, your peers in treatment, your peers in support meetings and groups are all different people, but their shared experience of drug and alcohol addiction recovery makes them each helpful in their own way. Your sponsor may exercise tough love and your peers from treatment may offer listening ears. None of them should offer any judgments, because you are all in similar situations. They need you, just like you need their support.
Throughout the ups and downs of recovery, you need support of all kinds to prevent an addiction relapse. You will know who you can call at two in the morning to listen and offer wisdom without complaint. You know that when you report to your sponsor, they will hold you accountable. Whatever type of support is offered, these are your peers; they are the people who understand what you are going through better than anyone else, maybe even you.
How Can I Access Peer Support in Recovery?
Peer support is available through many different sources. Some of these include:
- Your peers from your treatment facility and counseling groups
- Peers from support meetings
- Those you meet on zoom or other online meetings
- Attending alumni activities at your treatment facility
- Online chat groups or social media
- Exercise or other activity groups specifically for those in recovery
- Attending group counseling sessions with peers
- Living in a halfway house with others new to recovery
By enlarging your support network with as many friends in recovery as possible, you increase your chances of finding the right support when you need it most.
The Value of Giving Back to Others
Peer support can be a lifeline in recovery. Once you have secured your footing on your recovery path, you can give back to others by offering support as well. Being able to help others is mutually beneficial, and you can be the lifeline that someone else was for you, especially for those in early recovery.
Some of the ways you can give back to others in recovery are:
- Be a sponsor
- Get involved in meetings
- Receive training to be a mentor or lead peer support groups
- Help with alumni activities at your treatment facility
- Organize specialty groups such as exercise or other activities
- Gain an education to work in the addiction recovery field
When Should I Offer Peer Support?
When you complete your initial treatment, you may be excited and want to help others. However, experience shows that waiting until you have been in drug or alcohol addiction recovery for a year or more will help you to be more successful. Not only does this give you more experience and wisdom to offer to others, but it solidifies your own recovery to prevent an addiction relapse.
Changing Lives by Working in Addiction Recovery
Many who work in the addiction recovery industry are in recovery themselves. This is the ultimate in peer support—to devote your life to helping others. If you are interested in a career within addiction recovery, talk with other people who have made recovery their career. They can help you find the training and education you will need, as well as give you an accurate idea of how it is to be in recovery and work in addiction treatment. You have likely been helped on your own recovery journey by peers, so you understand how you can change lives, too. You can be the lifeline that someone else was for you.
Recovery requires everything that you have within and then some. Contact us at DiscoveryMD today to learn more about our outpatient and intensive outpatient programs.