When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, she is struggling with a disease…
Giving Back: Helping Fellow Addicts Recover
Many people believe it’s the job of addiction treatment specialists to “cure” their clients of addiction. But drug addicts and alcoholics are ultimately and inescapably responsible for their own healing. Participation in drug treatment programs can help them develop the insight, knowledge, courage and determination to see their recovery through to the end — but the addiction will remain after treatment, and even the best therapists can’t alter that reality.
Addiction treatment professionals certainly have a role to play in the addiction recovery process. However, even during the course of a formal addiction treatment or rehabilitation program, therapists and other addiction specialists are only one part of a much larger support network. Drug addicts and alcoholics struggling to overcome the darkness of chemical dependency need as much help as they can get, and support from family members, friends and other recovering addicts in group therapy and peer group meetings can all contribute to an addict’s ultimate victory over drugs and alcohol — both during and after treatment.
When you went through rehab, and continued on the path of sobriety during aftercare, you undoubtedly had many opportunities to interact with others who’ve walked in your shoes. Their moral support and hard-earned wisdom likely helped you see the light and find the strength to continue even when times were tough. Just as others helped you in your campaign to overcome addiction so, too, can you be a force for good in the lives of other alcohol and substance abuse victims.
So why not follow their example? Pay your debt forward in one of the most constructive ways possible, by reaching out and offering your hand in kindness and kinship to other addicts fighting the good fight against a terrible disease.
Why Peer Interactions are So Meaningful in Recovery
Self-doubt can easily derail an addict’s or alcoholic’s recovery. The odds seem long and the challenges overwhelming, and that is the time when hope and reassurance are desperately needed.
This reassurance and support is what you can offer your companions in group meetings, along with practical strategies to stay on the straight and narrow when the temptations are at their most powerful and you are at your most vulnerable.
Even if you’ve suffered a relapse (or multiple relapses), this is no reason to feel ashamed. The point is you that you get back up again and keep going. Your honest revelations about those awful times can make a positive impact on those who need to know that addiction can be overcome — it doesn’t always win in the end.
Mutual Understanding Creates Mutual Healing
In your discussions with your fellow recovering addicts you should remember that you’re not a trained therapist and you don’t have all the answers. But you do have a viewpoint and a lifetime of experiences (both good and bad) to share, and that has significant value in drug treatment programs where recovering addicts and alcoholics need help from others who have experienced addiction.
Don’t underestimate how valuable your supportive actions can be to your own healing process. Recovery from addiction is about finding a better and more meaningful way to live, and when you’re able to help others facing the same life challenges, there is nothing more meaningful than that.