How Peer Support Helps People With Addiction
Peer support has been used as a means to help people in recovery from alcoholism and addiction for almost a hundred years now. Starting with groups such as the Oxford Group, a precursor to Alcoholics Anonymous, people who suffered from the diseases of alcoholism or addiction discovered that through mutual support they could abstain from drinking or using drugs and live happy and useful lives. Peer support can offer effective suggestions on relapse prevention tips, life skills, emotional sobriety, and effective techniques for learning how to live a sober life. You see a comparison that stuck with me when I first got sober was the comparison of early sobriety to being a toddler trying to cross a street. You cannot do this alone and peer support is a huge component of successful sobriety.
Before the advent of peer support most alcoholics and addicts were relegated to traditional methods of therapy, that often did not work for them, and when their alcoholism or addiction became bad enough they were sent to sanitariums in order to live out the rest of their days in seclusion.
Although the Oxford Group was disbanded, the idea that it produced, which was one alcoholic could help another alcoholic stay sober, helped to shape the 20th century and in turn created the movement of recovery that we now have today.
That being said there is still a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to peer support and many people believe that is just another form of therapy. While there is a therapeutic nature to peer support, it does not pretend to be psychotherapy in any way. It is simply just one person who suffered from addiction or alcoholism helping another to overcome their difficulties.
This form of treatment for addiction and alcoholism has proved to be very successful and this is because alcoholics and addicts can relate to each other in a way that other people will not be able to, thereby ending the isolation that is addiction and bringing hope to the sufferer.
Many addicts and alcoholics have expressed at one point or another in their life that they felt completely alone and they had no sense of community. Many addicted people have felt this way for majority of their life and no matter how hard they tried, they never seemed to fit in. Peer support offers the much-needed sense of community that is needed and in doing so, it allows addicts and alcoholics to feel supported and loved.
I know that this has been my experience and it wasn’t until I came to Alcoholics Anonymous that I truly felt a part of. I cannot really describe to you the feelings that I derived from finding my tribe of people. It was like I was home and I knew that after years of searching for an answer, I was going to be okay. My story is not unique and peer support has helped millions of alcoholics and addicts around the world recover from their affliction and start their path to an entirely new life.
Peer support in the 21st century is changing yet again though, and with the technological advances that we have seen over the past 20 years, more people than ever have the ability to connect.
Online communities have sprung up all around the Internet and they are allowing people, who just a few years ago would have been too insulated, to find a peer group. Whether this is people who are overseas in countries that do not offer meetings in their native language, or people who are sick and cannot get out of the house for one reason or another, with the advent of the Internet they now have the ability to recover from their addiction with the help of their peers.
These online communities can be found in a number of different forms, and one of the most popular is online video meetings. These are Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings that are hosted online and can be accessed through such programs as Skype or FaceTime. Basically a person who wants to attend one of these online peer support groups will login at the designated time and they can participate in a meeting with people from all around the globe. Listings for both online Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings can be found in the links below.
Besides video peer support, people who are suffering from alcoholism or addiction can find a number of different message boards or forums on the Internet where they can get support from people just like them. These message boards give people the ability to connect with others anonymously, and ask questions and relate in a way that is unprecedented in human history. In the past you would maybe have access to the collective experience of a hundred people, now at the touch of button you could have access to millions of experiences. This means that there is a lot more support out there for people and it also gives people who are not yet for traditional peer group settings the ability to try it out from the safety of their homes. Some popular messages boards and forums that offer peer support for alcoholism or addiction are:
The emergence of peer support over the past 100 years has changed the way that we deal with alcoholism and addiction as a society. Peer support groups have allowed millions of people who were deemed hopeless, the ability to recover and find a new way of life, and it has given purpose to countless others. Now with the Internet no one on the planet has to be alone with their struggle, as any person with access to a LAN or a phone can have the support of their peers.
Hopefully the links provided will help you find the support you need and when you are ready I highly suggest checking out an in-person support group. These are not nearly as intimidating as we make them out to be in our minds, and at these support group meetings you may find some of your future best friends.
Visit the Ascent home page for more information about the Ascent solution and how their peer support can help you throughout your recovery as well.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.