An opportunity for self-examination. A wish for a fresh start, better choices, happier relationships. But for those with addictions the climb out is a steep one.
Addiction and recovery. Those words go hand in hand for many. For some it will be a life-long struggle to find the recovery and continued avoidance.
This is the start of a conversation about addiction. I am not an addiction counselor, a former addict, or a spouse of one. But I have been touched by loved ones whose struggles I have witnessed. I have wondered as to their behaviors and motivations and suffering. I have asked what is wrong and how can I help?
There are many sorts of addictions. We all know people, perhaps family or casual friends, with them. Prescription drugs, alcohol, and heroin addictions are the tip of the big modern iceberg. I have felt the loss of friend’s children to heroin. Loosing a child you know has struggled is devastating.
In this series we will tackle some aspects. We will try to go beyond the questions of how to decide you need treatment, and the decision as to where to go, although those are the beginning steps. We will explore stories of treatment and the friendships that develop between those in treatment. Emotional and physical support and friendship are powerful tools that empower recovery. It’s the stuff that brings people to Refuge Recovery, AA and other support organizations. It creates a family of sorts for the recovering addict.
What I have witnessed is that the journey is seldom successful without support from peers. Peers who are also struggling. Peers who understand.
How My Recovery Peers Helped Me Find a Forever Recovery: The Support Recovering Addicts Found in Treatment
Contributed by Cecelia Johnson
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with numerous addiction treatment graduates lately, each with his or her own unique story. There was one thing they all seemed to agree on, though: their recovery peers were an important part of their path to sobriety.
Here are just a few of the ways the people you meet in rehab can impact your recovery journey — and even make the process a little easier.
They support you from the very start.
It’s intimidating to imagine walking into treatment not knowing a single soul. But Jarakah said the other patients at her facility made her feel welcome even from that first tentative moment.
“When you walk in, you’re not left alone. You’re immediately embraced by your peers,” she recalled. “You feel love, and you make new connections and lasting friendships while you’re here.”
Sean said that during his time in addiction treatment in Michigan, the people may have been diverse, but at the end of the day everyone was on the same team.
“There might be 40-something states represented here. I know they’ve had people from all 50. So you see broad, diverse backgrounds, but here, they’re all the same. Everyone backs each other up here,” he explained.
They help you open up.
Losing yourself in a drug or alcohol addiction can be an isolating and confusing process. But Alan said that going to treatment and being surrounded by so many others trying to better themselves helped him find his way.
“Having someone there going through the same thing as you makes you feel not so alone. It really motivates you to get your life back,” he said.
Gerald told me it wasn’t just moral support, either. His recovery peers truly helped each other through the process, even acting as mentors.
“The peers sit around and talk to each other all the time, and a lot of them have the same types of problems or have been through them, so they can help each other get through whatever issues they’re having,” he said.
The connections you make run deeply.
For some, the friends made in rehab are too special to ever lose.
“I met a few of my roommates that I just immediately clicked with, and we went through the program together. I could see them being lifelong friends and that’s part of the support structure and part of the community that we are trying to take part in,” John said.
One of the most important rewards of spending time with your peers in treatment is that it truly solidifies the importance of having that kind of special support system — both now and in the future. And it’s not just about finding those who can help you stay on track, it’s about finding ways to return the favor, too.
“As far as the sober community out there, there are people relying on [each other] and being able to lean on each other for help when they’re weak,” John explained. “And I’m definitely trying to [strengthen that team] every day to help build a sober team, so that not only I can stay sober, but hopefully my sobriety will help other people stay sober.”