Peer support is essential for treating and recovering individuals with substance use disorder (SUD). Most treatment programs involve mandatory group therapy and community activities that encourage healthy social bonding in a structured environment. Newport Beach Recovery Center is a thriving community where clients can heal together.

Peer relationships provide an excellent source of support, encouragement, and accountability. An article in the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation journal states, “Active engagement in peer support groups have shown to be a key predictor of recovery, and sustaining recovery.” The relationships you make within the recovery community can last a lifetime and can help you build a healthier future.

What Is a Support System?

A support system is a group of people who have your best interest at heart and provide practical support and emotional encouragement. The number of people in the system is less vital than the quality of their support. Recovery is a long process, and having peers who celebrate your successes and help you overcome challenges can make a significant difference in treatment and aftercare.

A support system can include the following individuals:

  • Care team and case manager
  • Medical professionals
  • Therapists or counselors
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Social peers
  • Mentors and sponsors

Your support system should provide multiple levels and types of support to ensure you have someone to turn to in almost any situation. Having someone available and willing to help you during recovery can make coping with intrusive thoughts, cravings, triggers, and crisis moments easier.

How Can You Expand Your Support System?

Not everyone has a support system when they begin treatment. Many people isolate themselves while under the influence of substances. Part of recovery involves repairing relationships damaged by the effects of addiction and building new social connections. Close family and friends may choose to become a part of your support system. However, not everyone feels capable of providing emotional or practical support to individuals in recovery. Be sure to ask them if they would like to be part of your support system and make sure they understand the responsibilities before relying on them to help you.

You can expand your support system by actively reaching out to people who have shown that they care about your well-being. In some situations, including individual therapy, the people involved in helping you understand that their role inherently makes them a part of your support system.

You can also expand your peer support system by doing the following:

  • Volunteering within the recovery community
  • Attending sober events
  • Joining recreational clubs or groups within the recovery community
  • Actively engaging in your treatment and forming bonds with peers at the facility

Many people make lifelong friends and mentors by becoming part of the community and interacting with others who share a goal of sustained sobriety.

The Mental Health Benefits of Peer Support

A strong support system will improve your mental and emotional health. For example, cravings and intrusive thoughts can lead to backsliding or relapse. You can manage those symptoms by using your coping skills and relying on individuals that care about you.

The mental health benefits of peer support include:

  • Decreased stress
  • Less severe symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Emotional stability
  • Increased sense of self-worth

Self-Help and 12-Step Groups

Positive social interactions can help you feel motivated to continue moving forward in treatment. Almost every outpatient treatment program involves group therapy and complementary self-help groups. Self-help and 12-Step groups also play an essential role in aftercare support. Individuals recovering from SUD can benefit from attending the following:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Al-anon
  • General support groups
  • Specific support groups

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recovery support services “provided by professionals and peers, are delivered through a variety of community and faith-based groups, treatment providers, schools, and other specialized services.” You can reach out to clinics, hospitals, therapy offices, and treatment centers like Newport Beach Recovery Center to get details on local meetings.

Maintaining Peer Support During Aftercare

Peer support is critical during aftercare when you do not have access to the same structured environment that facilitates accountability and positive change during residential and outpatient treatment. Peers can step in and motivate you to maintain healthy routines and new thought patterns that help you maintain sobriety.

The most common forms of peer support during aftercare include:

  • Mentors and sponsors
  • Self-help and 12-Step groups
  • Group therapy or counseling
  • Recovery organizations, groups, and events
  • Sober living communities

Outpatient treatment allows you to expand your support system to include self-help groups and peer groups that can help you cope with challenges during treatment and aftercare.

You do not have to go through treatment and ongoing recovery alone. Inclusive communities of compassionate and empathetic peers exist in cities around the country. People in these communities support one another through long-term recovery. You can find them by reaching out to local resources, including therapy and doctor offices, clinics, and rehabilitation facilities like Newport Beach Recovery Center. We believe everyone deserves to feel respected and supported during recovery. You will benefit from interacting with peers during therapy and aftercare. You will respond better to treatment if you have positive social bonds to rely on and a nonjudgmental community where you can safely practice social skills and coping mechanisms. Most cities have multiple self-help and 12-Step groups where you can attend meetings and interact with others with similar life experiences. To learn more about the programs and referrals we offer, contact us today by calling (888) 850-0363.