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The Importance Of Peer Support For Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is a long and winding road. The possibilities of relapse threaten to destroy the sobriety individuals have worked so hard to maintain. It can often feel lonely, and people find themselves feeling misunderstood as they struggle against their inner demons. A beneficial resource for someone striving for sobriety is a peer support group, one filled with people who have walked — or are currently walking — your same path who can commiserate with you on your everyday struggles.

What is peer support?

A major challenge in seeking a life that is now substance or alcohol free is having to sever ties with those you likely consider closest in your life. There may have been individuals who engaged or enabled your addictive tendencies. These could be family members, friends, old drug dealers or coworkers.

As you begin to distance yourself from triggering moments, you might find yourself drifting further and further away from the people who once filled your life. Moments like these can be very beneficial to find yourself a peer support group. This will be a group of people who have similar conditions or circumstances as you who are also seeking to reach long term recovery from their addiction.  

If you are working with a doctor to seek addiction recovery, they’ll likely be able to suggest some addiction recovery peer groups for you to join. If you are currently taking your journey without medical help, there are many resources for finding peer support groups. At Jackson House, we offer peer support groups to help you with your addiction recovery and maintenance because we understand how helpful these groups can be as you strive for a new addiction-free life.  

How is peer support beneficial to addiction recovery?

  •       Stress Management – Having peers that understand the urge to return to past habits can be helpful as you work through stress in your day-to-day life. They will give you a safe place to talk and relatable discussions to help connect with one another. They will also be able to provide a group to help you cope with major life events.
  •       Hope – Being around people who have dealt with or are currently handling the same struggles as you can provide you with hope. You can find light at the end of the tunnel as you hear other people’s recovery stories while providing others with that same hope as you build bonding connections.
  •       Strength – In times when you feel most vulnerable and susceptible to your cravings, allies can be your saving grace. Your peer support group will provide you with individuals that will give you the strength and comradery necessary to overcome these difficult times without relapsing. Relying on others and accepting your vulnerabilities is key to building strength in your lowest of lows.
  •       Role models – If you are able to find and connect with people who have recovered from their addictions and can speak to the benefits of living a life of sobriety, you are more likely to be encouraged to follow in their footsteps. They will also be able to provide much needed advice, wisdom, and encouragement during difficult times that will speak directly to the struggles you are dealing with.
  •       Something to lose – Studies have shown that people are less likely to suffer a relapse if they have something to lose. This loss could be health, friendships, or employment. Having peers in your group that you don’t want to let down can be another reason for you to say no when the urges arise.
  •       Reduce relapse risk – People who try to kick their addictions on their own are more likely to experience a relapse. Studies, however, have shown that people who are actively participating in a peer support group were much less likely to relapse. Opportunities like these provide accountability and support to prevent regressing into old habits.

How can someone receive peer support through their addiction recovery?

As you begin your addiction recovery process, speak with your doctor or therapist to ask for suggestions for peer addiction support groups. They may be affiliated with a program or group they can recommend, or will know of helpful organizations for you to contact.

These groups will typically meet at a set time. This could be a few times a month or even a couple times a week. The goal is to become comfortable with this group of peers to share your struggles and seek support, or even guidance from those who have already undergone a similar struggle.

Ways to continue peer support after initial treatment 

If you’re coming to the end of your initial treatment but want to continue the use of a support group, options are still available to keep you on track:

  •       Join a local support group such as –
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Narcotics Anonymous
    • SMART Recovery
    • LifeRing
  •       Find a sober recreational activities group around you like –
    • Sober softball league
    • Volunteer
    • Become someone’s sponsor

You can also stay connected with people who were in your original peer addiction recovery group. These people have already been part of your life in such an influential way. Work to maintain these relationships as you continue your journey towards recovery. You can still get together with these people as you continue to provide genuine connections and support throughout your recovery process.

How Jackson House Can Support You

Relapse prevention and peer support are inclusive methods from the team of experienced physicians, nurses, doctoral and masters level therapists at Jackson House Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers. Not only are you provided with modern amenities and community support, you're surrounded by trained and Certified Addiction Counselors and peer specialists who strive to make your road to recovery a successful one. Let your peers at Jackson House guide you through rehabilitation.

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