When you’re in addiction recovery, it can sometimes feel like no one understands what you’re going through. You may think that your family doesn’t understand how you experience both extreme stress and crushing depression every single day. You may think that close friends look at you differently, and you may notice that they don’t know how to connect with you anymore. You may even feel that you don’t fully understand how you got to this point in your life.
5 Reasons to Consider Peer Support When You’re in Recovery
Addiction is not only a chronic disease but also an isolating one. It can make you feel stigmatized and completely on your own. However, the reality is that you’re far from alone. There are many group therapy programs and other group counseling options available for people in addiction recovery. Group therapy may already be familiar to these people because this type of therapeutic care is commonly a component of addiction treatment programs. Whether or not group therapy was a significant help to you during your time in formal addiction treatment, you should consider group counseling options if you need extra support to maintain your sobriety. Consider the following reasons that you should consider peer support.
1. It Helps You Feel Like You’re Not Alone
Participating in a group therapy session or even talking to an alumnus of your addiction treatment program can help build a supportive foundation to get you through hard days. If you find it difficult to share your experiences and thoughts with strangers, you may look for group counseling options that limit participants accordingly.
If there are men’s rehab programs and women’s rehab programs, there are also men’s group counseling options and women’s group counseling options. Other group counseling options can also be age-specific, LGBTQ-friendly, or for residents of a local area. Group counseling options like this can not only make you feel not alone but also provide you with a way to connect with people who will understand everything you’re going through.
2. It Provides Emotional Support
Group counseling can give you the emotional support you’ve been missing. When you finally have people in your corner who have also struggled with addiction, you’ll find it easier to lean on other people’s shoulders when you’re struggling. For the first time in a long time, you’ll have people you can talk to openly without any fear of stigma, persecution, or judgment.
Emotional support can also go both ways. Group counseling allows you to increase your level of empathy and give you a clear way to support others like you.
3. It Gives You a Safe Space and a Sense of Belonging
Peer support options can help you feel like you’re not alone and support you, but more than that, they can give you a safe space and a sense of belonging. Maybe you’ve always had trouble connecting with family, or you’ve never felt comfortable in your own skin. That doesn’t matter in group counseling. Peer support in addiction treatment and recovery introduces you to people you can bond with easily. When you’re surrounded by people who accept your past and support your recovery, you can finally feel safe and like you belong.
4. It Allows You To Build a Support System Beyond Addiction Recovery
Many people in recovery are in group therapy programs to help them reintegrate into the real world and maintain their sobriety. However, peer support can also turn into practical support when learning how to live without addiction. It can help you develop and practice life skills such as eating healthy, managing a job, and dealing with everyday stress. Peer support can improve not only your confidence but also your self-efficacy.
Addiction recovery is an ongoing journey. People you meet in group counseling can serve as your support system whenever you need guidance or struggle with your sobriety, sometimes years after you first met them.
5. It Provides You a Way To Give Back
Sometimes, people in recovery work with alumni of their addiction treatment programs. You may have experienced this. If this type of help was very effective in your case, you might want to help other people in recovery in the same way. Some peer support options, especially those that are part of rehab aftercare plans, focus on bringing alumni of addiction treatment programs together in sessions. In a setting like this, you can both benefit from advice from other alumni and give back by sharing your own advice with newer participants.
Finding the Right Group Counseling Option for You
Group counseling options can be divided into group therapy sessions and support groups. Both general ideas are to get people with similar problems or negative experiences together to process and move forward. However, the setup of each is slightly different.
Group therapy sessions, also known as psychotherapy groups, are typically led by licensed therapists. A therapist usually regulates who can participate and when it makes sense to introduce new participants into the mix. People who have extensive experience living with certain conditions, such as addiction typically lead support groups. It’s less common for a mental health professional to lead a support group. These people may or may not have the training to facilitate this gathering. Support groups are often more flexible than psychotherapy groups and generally allow people to drop in as they wish.
According to addiction treatment experts, whether you go to a group led by a therapist or a peer, connecting with others can be invaluable.