“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
-Vince Lombardi, American football coach
While in recovery from addiction, traumatic experiences, or mental health struggles, individuals are encouraged to participate in both group sessions and peer-to-peer mentorships. They are also encouraged to share their experiences with friends and family to build a support network. Before finishing most recovery programs, you may be required to collaborate with these friends and family members to let them know how to best support you once you return home.
The process of recovery will give you ample time to consider how others can best help you with your continued success. Why is a healthy support system so important for those in recovery? Because we are social animals, and we thrive best when we are supported and nurtured by others.
If you are new to recovery, then you may be unfamiliar with the term “peer support” or “peer mentor.” In recovery, a “peer” refers to someone who is also in recovery. Your peers come from all walks of life. They may be first responders, police officers, ambulance drivers, teachers, construction workers, veterans, doctors, lawyers, teachers, or any other profession. They may be younger or older than you. They may have grown up in a different state or country. No matter what differences you have with your peers, each of you – in recovery – is committed to being the best that you can be. Each person in your recovery program is committed to seeing you succeed, just as you are committed to seeing them succeed. You are now in a supportive environment with others who have been in your shoes. When you are in recovery and begin a new program, remember this: you are not alone!
An important pillar of many successful recovery programs is collaboration. In some programs, leading group therapy sessions or gaining other leadership skills are a crucial part of the recovery process. One of the ways these programs help individuals collaborate is by encouraging those with more experience to mentor those who are just starting. Peer support has become a cornerstone of recovery not just for alcohol addiction and substance abuse, but mental illness and trauma as well. Some states even offer certification courses in peer mentorship, which can lead to employment opportunities for those in recovery.
How can you become a peer mentor? First, you must work on your recovery. When you start the process, you will make some mistakes or try new things that may not be for you. However, as you continue following your program, you will find your path to recovery. The lessons that you are learning today could be valuable to someone else with similar struggles.
Some of us in recovery may have strained relationships with our family due to our past behaviors as we struggled with our addictions. Everyone defines family differently and your immediate family (mother, father, siblings, etc.) may not be as supportive as we would like them to be. While you may be able to repair some of these relationships, remember to build a supportive network around a team of people who are committed to you. Find people who are in your corner.
You may have to redefine “family” by including peer mentors, co-workers, your boss, trusted friends, and others you have met during your program. For some of you, this may still include your traditional family as well. Most importantly, be the coach of your recovery support team and let them all know how they can best help you.
You may have heard the expression that says “the whole is more than the sum of its individual parts.” To build an effective support network, each person needs to be committed to a common goal. In recovery, the shared goal may be to stay sober or to stay healthy. For a support network, the shared goal is to help you with your recovery. Think of each person in your support network as being part of your “team.” Just like any sports team, each “player” on your support network will have their own strengths to bring to your aid. Like any good coach, your job is to identify the strengths of your support network. Some of our friends can help us by picking up the phone at 3 a.m. Other people may help us with daily tasks, like giving us a ride to work or taking us grocery shopping. You may even have a friend online, who checks on you daily by sending a text message.
Make a list of who is on your team, and what “position” they will play in your successful recovery. With a solid team behind you, your chances for success are even greater.
Do you feel alone in your struggles? Like no one can possibly understand what you are going through? Sometimes, we need a place to be with like-minded people, who have dealt with similar struggles and made it through the other side. Being around peer mentors and others like us helps to validate our experiences. People who have “been there” can give us great tips and advice on our recovery. The Kimberly Center offers group sessions, peer mentors, and other forms of support, along with a wide range of innovative approaches to help those in recovery. We will help you design a program that is as unique as you are. Located in Ft. Myers, Florida, we encourage a supportive environment for those struggling with past traumas, addictions, and co-occurring substance use and mental health issues. Let our team help you find long-term success in your recovery. Call us today at (855) 452-3683.