If you're going through some difficulties or are experiencing something challenging in life, something you always want to have around you is a community. These are people that you can count on, lean on, and help you get through challenging times. The support we get from our family, friends, peers, and our entire community can give us the strength that we need to persevere even when things get tough. Peer support in recovery is also crucial.
Peer support plays a particularly important role in one's recovery from substance misuse. It is essential to have people you can turn to when you need to remind yourself why you started this journey, require advice, or just need a listening ear and someone to vent to.
What Does Peer Support in Recovery Look Like?
If you have friends and family members who are truly supportive of your recovery journey and want to see you succeed, that is wonderful. It is something that many going through such a journey don't have. The only potential problem that could arise is that, if they do not have experience with recovery themselves, they might not know how to relate to what you're experiencing. As a result, they may say or do things that are damaging, despite being well-meaning and not wanting to cause you any harm.
This is why peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are so strongly recommended for those in recovery, especially for those starting their journey. When you attend these sorts of peer-support meetings, you can rest assured that not one person in the group is going to judge you or look at you poorly. This is because they, too, have experience with addiction. They might not be in exactly the same place in their recovery journey as you are, but that doesn't mean they can't relate in a very personal way.
Because such peers have this experience, they are able to offer you guidance and advice that your friends and family members may simply be unable to, however much they may wish they could. And that's not all that these peer support groups can offer you. They allow you a chance to share the ups and downs of your recovery journey without ridicule. Your peers in the meetings can offer you tips rather than criticism.
Helping Your Through Difficult Times in Your Journey
If you're at a difficult point in your recovery journey, peer support can help you get through it. Maybe there are certain factors going on in your life that are causing you to feel as if your sobriety is threatened. You could be experiencing stress from work, carrying the toll of tending to a sick loved one, or struggling with financial stress. These things can cause you to consider turning back to substance use, even if you don't want to give up your sobriety.
You could open up to a family member or friend about these feelings, but there is a good chance they won't fully understand. Even the mention of you having these feelings may cause them to become upset with you and distressed. They may say things that aren't helpful.
However, when you open up to your peer support group about such topics, you will be met with understanding, compassion, and empathy. There are likely members of your support group who have been through the same thing before. Thus, they are going to be able to offer their own perspective, which is likely going to be more helpful than that of someone without recovery experience.
Other Benefits of Peer Support in Recovery
There are a lot of other benefits of peer support in recovery that you might not have considered before. Perhaps one of the greatest ones is the ability to meet new friends. The friendships you form with others in recovery are like no other because you are bonded over your mutual commitment to your sobriety and doing right for yourself.
These friendships are also important for further down the road when you are ready to start including new sober and fun activities into your life. Think, for example, how great it will be when you don't have to ask around to try to find friends that are looking to spend a night out doing something other than heading to the bar. You and the friends you have met in recovery can not only hold each other accountable but share in new and other meaningful experiences together.
Another very important benefit of peer support in recovery is that you will experience a sense of belonging. Addiction can be a tremendously isolating thing to go through alone. You may carry quite a bit of shame and feel as if nobody can really understand what it is that you're going through. However, when you start attending peer-support group meetings and get to know the people in your group, you will realize that there really are people that can understand and relate to you. These are peers that care and want to help you succeed.
Peer support plays a crucial role in not only the beginning stages of recovery but in the months and years that follow. The friendships that you form through peer-support group meetings during this time may play a wonderful and very important role in the rest of your life. You will meet people who build you up and want to see you succeed as you go about your recovery journey. If you are currently struggling with substance misuse, there is hope. Our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about the types of services we provide. A member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you have.