Peer coaching and a support network help in recovery
Anyone who is about to embark on a long and difficult journey would benefit from some moral support. Recovering addicts are no exception.
People who are recovering from substance abuse struggle with temptation and withdrawal symptoms daily. It helps to know there’s someone in their corner. These people, also known as sober supports (or peer coaches), can help make a difficult recovery process more bearable.
If you’re on the road to recovery, there are a few types of support you can access. Learn about the various types.
Types of Peer Support for Addiction Recovery
Peer support can come in the form of a formal group or one-on-one sessions with someone close to you. The following are types of support you’ll need in your network, as outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- Emotional – Peer mentoring and peer-led support groups are great examples of emotional support. These people can understand the emotional strain of recovery and empathize with you.
- Informational – As you’re returning to society without drugs, you may benefit from some basic support and training on how to handle your responsibilities. This training may include things like parenting classes, job skills training and wellness seminars.
- Instrumental – This type of support helps you with more tangible things like child care, transportation and connecting you with health and social services.
- Affiliational – Affiliational support helps you build a new network with healthy relationships and healthy habits. This type of support may be done through recreational sports, recovery centers or in other ways.
Benefits of a Peer Support Network
If you’re approaching recovery, don’t go it alone. It’s important to have a solid support network with peer coaching. Here are some specific benefits you’ll enjoy from your network.
- Connect with someone who understands
Someone who has experienced the ugliness of addiction firsthand has a better understanding of your struggles. These people have been through the difficult stage of early addiction recovery and made it to the other side. Your peer coach can help you do the same by providing tips and insights that no one else can.
- Learn to socialize without drugs
Many addicts have trouble avoiding temptation in the early days of recovery because the people in their circle of friends are still abusing substances. It’s important that you not fall into your old self-destructive habits, and a peer counselor can help.
If you are part of a recovery group, try making friends and socializing with its members.
- Find help getting to meetings
If you don’t have a reliable method of transportation, this can be a roadblock in your recovery. With the right network, you should have someone to rely on when you can’t get somewhere you need to be.
- Look up to a realistic role model
Peer support can provide you with someone to look up to. Your peer mentor will have been in your shoes and recovered to have a successful career and life. It helps to know someone who has done what seems impossible to you in the moment.
- Hear words of encouragement when you need them
Especially during the bad days, we all need someone to tell us we’re doing a great job. Your support system is there to encourage you with words of affirmation – even when you’re at your lowest.
- Someone to share your victories with
If you achieve a great milestone and no one is there to hear about it, did it happen? Of course it did, but the victory isn’t nearly as sweet as when you have someone to celebrate with.
How to Build Your Support Network
You may be lucky enough to know people who can fill every role you’ll need through recovery. Most people need to make new connections.
If you’ve attended a rehabilitation center to begin your recovery, they may have resources to help you. Reach out to the counselors there to ask for help in building your post-rehab network.
If you need alternate resources, a 12-step program is a great place to start. Not only will the meetings help reinforce your resolve, but you will have the opportunity to connect with others in recovery.
Network therapy is another option. This is a multifaceted approach that combines one-one-one therapy sessions with group meetings that include the patient’s family members and social network. This approach works well in conjunction with peer support because it brings all aspects of the person’s life together. Network therapy is especially helpful for teenagers who still need more support from their families.
Recovery is a highly-personalized process that requires many pathways. As such, recovery services and support are crucial. Still, they must remain flexible to ensure they work for the individual. In general, peer coaching and support are instrumental to recovery, but the person must be allowed to choose their support system.
Through recovery, peer coaches and newfound sober supports, the person learns to love themselves for who they are without drugs or alcohol.
Guest post by Trevor McDonald