Addiction can be an isolating experience. When you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, it can feel like no one understands your pain, your cravings and the way addiction has impacted your life. That’s why peer support is so effective.

Peer support for addiction recovery can connect you to people who have walked in your shoes. It can give you hope, encouragement and add new meaning to your life. In this article we’ll explore the perks of journeying with like-minded peers and how to get involved.

What is peer support for addiction recovery?

While having friends that encourage your sobriety is surely important, peer support is so much more than that. In the recovery community, peer support generally means services that are led by others who have overcome substance use and are working to help others in the same situation. These services provide education, mentoring and emotional support for those currently trying to overcome addiction.

Peer support services capitalize on the lived experiences of those who facilitate them. Both the witness and the words of the individual who has overcome addiction offer hope and increase the credibility of the information being shared.

The peer support model is based on research demonstrating the effectiveness of social support, empathy and therapeutic relationships, according to Psychiatric Services. Peer services are both effective and appealing because the relational aspect is integral to the mode of services.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are several areas that peer support workers are able to provide assistance. They may be involved in advocacy, helping those in recovery to build important skills, sharing educational information and resources, doing community organizing or outreach, leading groups or mentoring on an individual basis.

How can peer support help my recovery?

It’s backed by science: A meta-analysis published in the journal Psychiatric Services set out to determine how peer support can help those in addiction recovery. The study found that peer support for addiction recovery produced lower relapse rates and made individuals more likely to participate in long-term treatment. Moreover, peer support increased satisfaction in relationships with treatment providers as well as in other social relationships.

It’s comfortable: Sharing your struggles with strangers is difficult. It can be a little bit easier when you know the people around you have endured similar trials. While sometimes it can feel as if treatment providers cannot relate to your situation or empathize with your decisions, you can know for certain that your peer support coach has been in your boat. It’s one thing to have a provider who knows about addiction, it’s another thing to have a provider who has experienced addiction.

You’ll get all kinds of support: Peer support offers a variety of tools and resources that can help to solidify your recovery. You’ll find a compassionate listening ear, a sounding-board for decision making and a unique perspective on your life’s challenges. You’ll also gain from real life skills, tips and tricks that have been tried and true by someone who has overcome addiction. And you are sure to benefit from social opportunities and connectedness when you know someone who has achieved sobriety.

It will help you manage negative symptoms of recovery: Anyone who tells you recovery is easy is lying. There are dozens of daily challenges, triggers and cravings- especially in the beginning. Depression, anxiety, social withdrawal and more are all common as you face the hard road to sobriety. Luckily, a social circle that cares for you and desires the best for you will not only help you break an addiction, but help you manage the other bumps in the road, too. Peer support gives you an outlet to help address the negative symptoms of recovery.

It’s focused on strengths: Peer support helps you be your best self by drawing out the talents and skills you already have. A strengths-based perspective will meet you where you are, building on the foundation you have cultivated in life and in early recovery. This service praises your resilience, and uses it to fuel your progress.

When can I get started?

While peer support can have a huge impact on your recovery, it’s not a replacement for professional treatment. Getting licensed and certified medical and mental health care is the first step in conquering addiction, with peer support serving as an adjunct treatment.

If you need help getting connected to treatment or peer support, reach out to October Road. October Road can help you get back on the path of success with evidence-based treatment, compassionate staff and individualized programming. Help is just a phone call away. Call 888-201-5086 today.

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