Recovering from addiction, resisting cravings, and creating a new way of life can feel like a never-ending list of to-dos that separates you from the rest of the world. Social isolation during recovery can trigger depression and anxiety, making you more susceptible to relapse. Luckily you are not alone. Plenty of people have been where you are now and have successfully emerged on the other side. Sober peers can provide you with the perspective and emotional support you need to maintain your abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Having a group of like-minded people in your corner will be an invaluable part of your recovery journey. Here’s why.
The Challenges of Post-Addiction Life
Life after addiction isn’t easy. Even though you’re making a change for the better, letting go of old habits and unhealthy relationships can force you to make some major life changes that others may not understand or agree with. You may have to deal with:
- Friends or family members criticizing you for your decision to seek treatment
- People associated with past drug use frequently trying to reach out and contact you
- Verbal, physical, or emotional harassment from people who don’t understand or like your new way of life
You might also have to deal with your own physical, mental, and emotional changes. You may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, shame, or grief about your past actions. You may be living with depression or you may feel anxious about adopting new coping strategies. The weight of all these changes can be exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming. Luckily, having a supportive community you can depend on can help you overcome these and other challenges.
What Exactly Is Peer Support?
Throughout your recovery journey, you’ll receive support from a wide range of people. Doctors and nurses might help you through the detoxification process, while counselors and psychiatrists help you identify and change harmful thought patterns. Supportive peer groups, also known as peer support, will assist your recovery journey in an entirely different way.
Your fellow individuals in recovery truly understand what you’re going through because they’ve overcome addiction themselves. When you meet with them, they share the wisdom and insights that helped them overcome addiction and regain control of their lives. They might also share some of the experiences they had to go through to get where they are today. In addition to being a safe place for you to talk about the ups and downs of recovery, peer support groups can help:
- Encourage you to maintain your sobriety
- Build your communications skills
- Lessen any isolation you may feel
- Show you how to integrate new coping skills into your life
Here are 5 specific ways peer support can help ease your addiction recovery process.
How Peer Support Benefits The Recovery Process
In many ways, peer support is one of the foundational blocks of a successful recovery. As you rehabilitate your life, you’ll need different types of support for various reasons. You might need emotional support one day and local information and referrals the next day. A few months down the road, you might need advice on sober housing and employment. Regardless of the type of assistance you need, peer support can help you:
1. Stay motivated and encouraged
Recovering from addiction can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. You may feel happy and joyous one day and depressed, paranoid, and anxious the following day. You might even wonder if all your hard work has been worth it. Having someone to call when you feel like this can encourage you and help you stay motivated. Talking to someone who has felt what you feel and been through what you’re going through can help inspire you to stay sober. Hearing stories of how they persevered through similar circumstances can help you see that the recovery process, though difficult, is in fact, worth it.
2. Make sober, like-minded friends
Making new friends can be uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and in many ways, intimidating. Luckily, the people in your peer support group can replace the negative influences you have had in your life. They can encourage you to chase your dreams, help you find ways to reconnect with your family, socialize with you, and hold you accountable. Being in a peer support group can also provide you with a judgment-free zone where you can be your authentic self and explore your past and present feelings without anyone thinking less of you. Realizing you are not in this battle alone is not only comforting but is also an essential part of your emotional and relational health.
3. Learn how to handle day-to-day stress
Life is full of ups and downs. Unemployment, financial challenges, family dynamics, and other everyday difficulties can trigger a significant amount of stress. Supportive peers can help you handle these daily stressors by showing you how they’ve incorporated stress-relieving techniques into their daily lives. They can also help provide you with information, resources, and contacts regarding work, unemployment, housing, and other sober living activities.
4. Live with a sense of value and purpose
Research shows that recovering individuals who feel like they have something to lose are more likely to maintain their sobriety. Having a sense of value and purpose inspires them to keep going. Feeling like you belong to a group of healthy people changing their lives together can help boost your self-esteem and give you a sense of purpose as you recover. Your life may not be completely changed, but spending time with inspirational people can help you:
- Develop a positive outlook on life
- Determine the values you want to live by
- See the benefits of long-term recovery
- Have hope for the future
5. Reduce your risk of relapse
Living in isolation can increase your risk of relapse. Having a community of supportive people around you can lessen your risk of relapse. When you’re down, you can call them. When you’re frustrated, they can listen and give you advice about how they overcome a similar challenge. When the cravings feel impossible to overcome, your peer group can help you overcome them. When you want to have some fun, they can recommend and plan sober activities with you. If the opposite of addiction is community, as many experts believe, peer support is one of the best ways to prevent relapse.
Providing You The Support You Need
At Meta Addiction Treatment, our mission is to empower you to take charge of your recovery. We do that through:
- 3 tiers of outpatient treatment
- Nutritional counseling
- Employment assistance
- Evidenced-based behavioral counseling
- Family support program
But we also incorporate peer-to-peer support in our treatment curriculum. If life wasn’t meant to be lived alone, rehabilitating your life certainly shouldn’t be done in isolation. Let our non-judgemental community help empower your recovery journey. We’re available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Contact us to speak to one of our recovery experts today.