The Importance of Peer Support in Recovery

Peer relationships are vital for an individual in recovery. It does not necessarily replace the need for formal detox or clinical guidance, but the support and perspective of peers are unique and different from that of professionals.

What exactly is peer support?

Peer support is a program where peer leaders who have often gone through detox and recovery themselves provide guidance and an outlet for others in recovery.

Peer support is typically in a group setting, but it can be individualized. Peer support truly offers acceptance, understanding, and validation that is not often found in other professional relationships.

Peer leaders can initiate sober activities where socialization is encouraged without reliance on drugs or alcohol. They can also serve as a resource for helping to find social services and employment opportunities for an individual in recovery.

Peer support can serve as a mentor and confidant to individuals in recovery by listening and providing support and advice on coping strategies and managing relapse. Peer support can also help an individual monitor and set goals that are very beneficial to an individual in recovery.

What can peer support look like?

Peer support can come in many different forms.

Peer support can be found in peer-run organizations, recovery community centers, 12-step programs (AA, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc.), internet support groups, drug courts, homeless shelters, child welfare agencies, hospital emergency rooms, sober living homes for men and women, detox facilities, and the list goes on.

The efficacy of peer support:

  • Self Image: Peer support has been studied and reported to provide increased confidence and self-esteem. Another study found that peer support leads to an increased sense of self-empowerment and the ability to control one’s own life and bring about changes one wishes to see.
  • Education: A study found peer support leads to a greater understanding of the recovery journey and increased retention of coping skills.
  • Future Outlook: Previous studies have also shown active engagement in peer support to be a strong predictor of sustained future recovery and completion of other treatment methods.
  • Inspiration: When connecting with peers who have also experienced the addiction and recovery journey, and who are actively participating and making improvements, it can be an inspiration and hope for others who are unsure and timid about actively participating in recovery. It can also increase hope of their recovery.
  • Health: Peer support is proven to lead to reduced hospital admission rates.
  • New friends and connections: Addiction is isolating, but peer groups can create lifelong friendships that blossom from a place of sincerity, vulnerability, and empathy.
  • Substance use: Peer support helps to aid in both the reduction and frequency of substance use.
  • Accountability: Participating in peer support gives an individual a greater sense of accountability as it draws them into a community of other individuals struggling with addiction and working towards recovery. This is a positive external pressure to continue on the recovery journey.
  • Community and Belonging: Peer support provides a group of people going through a similar circumstance that is unique to substance abuse. They can realize similarities with other individuals and realize they are not alone in what they are going through.

Peer support is a very helpful tool for individuals on their recovery journey. Everyone’s journey is unique, but it is not meant to be isolated. Peer support can be a beautiful way to support others on their own recovery journey and can help them stay on their path towards a brighter future.

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