Why is Peer Support Important in Substance Abuse Recovery?

Support groups in substance abuse recovery have been around for decades, helping people connect and learn about life with addiction. But peer support is more than just weekly meetings. They play a big part in a person’s lifelong recovery process

Here we’ll dig deeper into peer support and why it’s so important in substance abuse recovery. We’ll review what peer support looks like, several benefits of peer support, and its role after a person finishes treatment.  

What is peer support in substance abuse recovery? 

Peer support is sometimes known as self-help or mutual help. People meet regularly in groups to share their experiences and help each other through difficult times. It’s one thing to get support from therapists and loved ones, but it’s another to hear it from someone on the same addiction recovery journey.

Peer support groups leaders in substance abuse recovery are not professional therapists. But they are trained to build trust and provide guidance at meetings. Most people with addiction don’t talk openly about their emotional pain and substance misuse. For this reason, leaders make sure the group remains a safe and supportive place for everyone.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a 12-step addiction recovery group, is a well-known example of peer support. You can find groups about many issues, including addiction, mental health conditions, grief and loss and more. Each peer support organization has its own philosophy. So if AA isn’t a good fit for you, there are several others to try. 

How can peer support help in recovery? 

One of the key benefits of peer support in substance abuse recovery is connecting with other people. Everyone who comes to a peer support group learns that they are not alone. Some can’t describe their feelings easily, and hearing others speak openly can be empowering. Instead of feeling worthless or like an outcast, a person with addiction issues can finally feel understood.

Staying away from substances for one day may not seem like a big deal to a person who hasn’t experienced addiction. But people working through recovery see these moments very differently. They know what it takes to accomplish a goal like this. Their support and encouragement come from a place of deep understanding.

Relapse is an essential factor to consider in recovery. Not everyone goes through it, but many do. Stressful life events are known to increase a person’s risk for relapse. Avoiding all stress isn’t a realistic goal, so it’s critical to use skills like emotional coping and stress management. And peer support groups are an ideal place to practice and learn them.

Peer support: Bridging the gap between outpatient treatment and alumni status

Peer support services have long been part of substance abuse recovery. And while research on these services has been limited, more studies show why people find them helpful. Here we’ll explore some important ways peer support can help after outpatient treatment ends.

Transition after treatment

Life after outpatient treatment can feel a little wobbly at first, much like taking off training wheels when learning to ride a bike. Peer support can help with this transition. As a person rebuilds their life, peers can offer much-needed guidance and emotional support. This is especially important after a person with addiction needs has been in prison or jail. Research shows that peer support can be helpful for people making this tough adjustment.   

Alumni services: Sober social time

Recovery continues for a lifetime. Alumni services help people who are done with treatment and want to stay connected with their program. They offer a way for people to get the support they need and help others along the way. Gatherings give people a safe and sober place to socialize, too. People learn from each other as they interact. They share methods for managing triggers, negative behaviors, and daily stress. 

Peer support and skills training

It’s common for people with addiction to have one or more mental health conditions. This is also known as having co-occurring disorders. Research shows that both types of disorders improve when peer support and skills training are used together. Some improvements last for many months, and other gains are only short-term. Despite the mixed results, this finding is promising. Recovery is often more challenging with multiple disorders, and peer support can make a positive difference.    

Peer support for substance abuse recovery

Drug addiction treatment centers are vital for people coping with addiction. But how does a person bridge the gap between rehab and lifelong recovery? Peer support services have filled this role for many years. They help people connect with others who have been in their shoes. People learn to trust and support each other on their recovery journey.

If you think you may need help with substance abuse recovery and want to know more about peer support, contact us at P.A.T.H. today. Call us at 888-622-7809. We’re here to help.

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