Addiction is a lonely disease, but recovery is anything but. As individuals begin to research options for addiction treatment, as they seek support to maintain their sobriety, they will quickly discover an extensive, helpful, supportive community of people who have found (and are happily living in) recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shares that “people with mental and/or substance use disorders have a unique capacity to help each other based on a shared affiliation and a deep understanding of this experience…People offer this support, strength, and hope to their peers, which allows for personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery.” The recovery community provides so many resources to its members and to people who are interested in learning about recovery. With help, you can find hope for a sober, social and fulfilling future.
Peer support has real, scientific evidence backing its effectiveness. The journal Community Mental Health (CMH) shares the following benefits of communicating with peers and finding social support for recovery:
Social support promotes physical and mental health and buffers psychological stresses…Empirical evidence has linked social support to increased health, happiness and longevity. In particular, research has shown the positive influence of social support networks on the course of mental illness…Levels and types of social support are also correlates of alcohol and drug use, treatment outcomes and relapses. Social support has been linked to better quality of life, both among substance users and individuals with a mental disorder.
Since mental health and addiction often co-occur, it is difficult to say with certainty which issue formed first. Ergo, any form of addiction treatment that can also address mental health problems is invaluable. Even if individuals only struggle with addiction concerns, peer support still offers improved health and better recovery outcomes. While professional help is still required to treat physical complications and to understand what addiction is and what strategies people can employ to stay clean, peer support and hearing stories of recovery cannot be ignored as a form of complementary treatment.
Stories of successful recovery can function as paths to future recoveries. CMH explains that, through community sharing and support groups, those in recovery “learn to accept their problem and to share their experiences, strengths and hopes…Mutual, honest sharing affords participants a forum where often stigmatized habits can be discussed in an accepting, trusting environment. It also provides a source of strategies to cope with the behavior and an opportunity for more advanced members to become role models to others.” Listening to other people’s stories of recovery means learning that you are not alone. It means learning that many, many other people have been where you are, and these others have found their own hope and their own paths to solid, reliable recoveries. Their stories also offer practical advice for handling specific situations, overcoming cravings and generally facing the unpredictable or unexpected problems that are simply part of life.
Stories of recovery have immediate benefits for those who both hear and share, but they also have other effects. SAMHSA explains that, on a financial level, “research has shown that peer support facilitates recovery and reduces health care costs.” This fact makes treatment and recovery more affordable and more accessible, so people who may have used finances as an excuse to avoid recovery stand on weak ground. One less excuse means that much less time involved between recognizing a problem, reaching out for help and taking action. In other words, stories can eliminate the excuses that people use to avoid rehab.
Furthermore, individuals who have heard stories of recovery probably have community with peers on the other side of treatment, so they may be more likely to take steps toward sobriety. For example, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice shares that “supportive peer networks are critical in reducing the drinking behaviors of college students. These groups help students develop a sense of belonging so critical to their identity development, school engagement, and overall mental health. Efforts to build strong support networks among students can address substance-related problems among the entire campus community, not just those in recovery.” When addiction enters the public eye through the stories of those who have lived through it, it helps addicts find hope for their own recoveries. Such proliferation also raises awareness of the dangers and likelihood of addiction, and this awareness can change the course of a person’s developing habits. There is no telling how far one story of recovery can reach and what effect it can have on someone who needs hope. Seek help now to get and stay clean from drug abuse.
There is always hope for recovery, and we are here to set you on the right path. Call our toll-free helpline now to learn about community and professional resources for addiction recovery and maintenance. Our admissions coordinators are here 24 hours a day to listen to your story, which means they can match you with the individualized professionals and services that you need. Take a step toward sobriety and call us now.