Connection for Sustained Recovery The Value of Peer Support in Alumni.jpg

Connection for Sustained Recovery: The Value of Peer Support in Alumni

Your relationships impact your life as they inform your sense of self and how you navigate the world. In particular, positive interpersonal relationships can foster social connectedness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social connectedness is a sense of belonging in which you feel supported, valued, and cared for in your relationships. Therefore, therapeutic tools like peer support can be vital to healing. Through peer support, you can build a foundation to rediscover yourself and heal in mind, body, and spirit.

At Driftwood Recovery, we know how important connection is to community integration and, thus, maintaining recovery. As a result, peer support can be an invaluable tool for building a foundation for healing through guidance and support. With our commitment to connection and community in our alumni program, you can find the peer support you need to thrive. Moreover, through an attachment approach, you and your fellow peers have learned how to seek and give compassion, understanding, and guidance to each other. Therefore, peer support in alumni can support you throughout your recovery journey.

However, you may question how peer support can be vital to maintaining recovery. What does peer support for alumni look like? In early recovery, you may be in the honeymoon phase in which you feel almost invincible to your previous challenges. Although leaving treatment with confidence in your sobriety is wonderful, it can also be dangerous to ignore the impact substance use disorder (SUD) and other conditions have had on you.

When you think you are invincible or that you will never be tempted, you leave the door open for relapse. The door to relapse is opened when you stop engaging in the adaptive and supportive tools you uncovered in treatment. Thus, peer support is not only a valuable tool during treatment but can be a way of life you carry with you into your independence. Therefore, increasing your awareness of peer support beyond treatment can support your understanding of the importance of connection and community.

What Is Peer Support?

Peer support can come in both unofficial and official capacities, such as a professional peer support worker or peer recovery coach. Regardless of the official nature of the support you receive, at its core, peer support is all about connection and growth through shared experiences. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states, peer support is a range of activities and interactions between individuals with similar experiences with SUD and other mental health disorders or both. The mutuality born in peer support encourages connection and hope through guidance and compassion.

Furthermore, through practical guidance, compassion, and accountability, peer support offers a sense of acceptance, understanding, and validation of your experiences. Through peer support, you are reminded that you are not alone; you are worthy of healing, support, and leading a purposeful life. Thus, peer support empowers you and your peers to learn from each other's experiences. When you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed by your challenges or life, the insight of your peers can give you the support and guidance needed to get through difficult moments. With more insight on peer support, you can understand how peer support helps sustain recovery from SUD.

Benefits of Peer Support for Substance Use Disorder Recovery

Understanding the impact SUD can have on relationships can highlight the importance of positive mutual relationships for lasting recovery. According to a 2019 article from Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, SUD harms social functioning. The changes to the brain substance use increase self-destructive behaviors that alienate loved ones. Thus, the loss of close relationships in SUD often leads to isolation and loneliness that develops into or exacerbates mental health disorders. In contrast, close, supportive relationships can support abstinence and maintain recovery. Listed below are some of the ways peer support aids in recovery:

  • Increase treatment retention
  • Reduce risk for relapse
  • Increase satisfaction with treatment experience
  • Improve access to resources

Now, with more insight, you can understand the relationship between peer support and your long-term mental well-being.

Supporting Mental Well-Being Through Connection

Peer support creates a bidirectional relationship in which shared experiences give greater insight and enhance resilience. Thus, greater social capital, positive relationships, and recognition from peers and loved ones give you a source of strength to meet the challenges of recovery. Moreover, as noted in a 2021 article from Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, peer-to-peer support in recovery helps you establish mutually supportive relationships that encourage the initiation and maintenance of recovery. The maintenance of recovery is then built on the principle of shared experiences, responsibility, and cooperation:

  • Builds life skills
  • Increases confidence
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Adaptive coping skills
  • Promotes hope

With peer support, you expand your toolbox to foster the psychological wellness needed to heal. Yet, some barriers can prevent you from accessing peer support for sustained recovery.

Addressing Barriers to the Continuum of Care

You are likely aware of the barriers that can impede entering treatment, such as economic, transportation, pregnancy, and childcare barriers. However, each stage of recovery is important to the overall process. Thus, a lack of awareness of barriers to healing can impede maintaining recovery:

  • Reduced use of coping tools
  • Insufficient or a lack of social support
  • Disengagement from your recovery community
  • Lack of activities and hobbies

Understanding some of the barriers to maintaining recovery highlights the importance of connection in recovery.

Sustaining Recovery With Peer Support at Driftwood Recovery

At Driftwood Recovery, we believe a vibrant alumni program can give you the peer support you need to thrive. With our peer-driven network, you can find encouragement and accountability to overcome the challenges of early recovery. Moreover, our commitment to community gives you access to long-term resources and services like weekly meetings, family dinners, and milestone dinners to support sustained recovery. Whether you are in early recovery or have been in recovery for years, we are here to help you lead the courageous life in recovery you deserve.

Stepping down in support after leaving treatment can feel daunting. Not utilizing resources and services following treatment can increase your risk for isolation and loneliness, which can open the door to relapse. However, engaging in an active alumni program with peer support can help you meet the challenges of sobriety and maintain your recovery. Through peer support, you can foster connection, insight, and enhance resilience through shared experiences. At Driftwood Recovery, we are dedicated to providing a deeply connected and peer-driven network in our alumni program to support you in the continued work of healing on your recovery journey. Call us at (512) 759-8330 to learn how peer support can help you in recovery.