Recovery Alumni Programs Are Beneficial
Whenever people share a similar experience, especially one as significant as addiction recovery, they form a great bond. Often these individuals are truly the only ones who understand each other’s successes and challenges, joys and fears. This relatability is just one reason why recovery alumni programs are so beneficial.
Many Methods for Staying Sober
People diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) aren’t doomed to life as an “addict” or “alcoholic.” In fact, calling yourself an addict or alcoholic is often damaging to long-term recovery, as the practice perpetuates the historical stigma of this brain disease.
However, when you’re struggling with negative emotions, dark thoughts, handling triggers, moving beyond trauma, or resisting cravings, it’s difficult to shut out smothering self-talk that separates your current progressive self from damaging past behavior. So how do you move forward?
Many people who complete addiction treatment programs use a variety of methods to avoid isolation and relapse, and continue to stay focused on their sense of purpose and sobriety. These methods include:
- 12-Step programs
- A whole foods diet with consistent exercise
- Different forms of consultative therapy
- Established routines and rituals
- Expressive arts, such as journaling, crafting, or painting
- Various types of holistic therapies
But one of the most successful techniques for staying healthy in addiction recovery is a strong foundation of social support.
For example, even before you entered treatment, you knew about 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Narcotics Anonymous: people come together to share stories, talk about challenges, and celebrate continued sobriety. If someone falls into relapse, they can return to a meeting and be picked up again by those who understand. But why does it work?
The Power of a Recovery Support Network
In an article for the Dana Foundation, Michael Platt, a biological anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, noted that “human beings are wired to connect.” He stated that social behavior “is a critical part of our adaptive toolkit…it allows us to come together and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”
So our desire to be part of a community is natural and healthy. Happiness.com reports that “belonging to a group or community we can identify with helps us develop a stronger sense of personal and collective identity. It can also give a boost to our self-esteem and to our willingness to take on the world and make our dreams happen.” It lists seven benefits of community:
- Support and safety
- Connection and belonging
- More connections mean more chances of success
In the early days of treatment, it’s a sense of community that helps you move past withdrawal and into recovery. During group therapy sessions, when people feel more raw and exposed as they share their stories, community is what provides support, safety, and belonging.
Having a positive influence on other people, learning from them, and developing a mutual acceptance of new directions are all benefits of interacting with a community.
Loneliness in Sobriety
Loneliness in sobriety is a real concern, because it reflects a greater problem for adults overall: without the opportunity for peer groups and like-minded communities, it’s more challenging to make friends. If you’ve moved, relocated for work, or your decision for sobriety means leaving less-supportive friends and even family behind, it’s vital to your overall well-being to seek out people who understand the journey you’re on.
Now, we’ll say out loud what you might be thinking: if I’m committed to a recovery journey, why would I want to associate myself with those who met me at, well, my worst? Are they the only choices I have for friends now that I’m sober? Is that all we’ll ever talk about?
Absolutely valid thoughts. Now look at the other side of them:
- These people met me at my worst…and yet here we are, together, sober, and thriving.
- Are they my only choices for friends…not all of them, but maybe one or two of you survived being “in the trenches” together, and that matters.
- Is sobriety all we’ll ever talk about…not at all, but at least a few people won’t need much of an explanation when you’re not at your best, and can help you set things right again, just as you would do for them.
These are connections worth holding on to, and why rehab alumni programs are successful additions to your social network.
Stay Strong With Twin Lakes Recovery Center Rehab Alumni Programs
With all these points in mind, it’s no wonder that rehab alumni events, meetings, and social media groups provide a special extension of community for so many people in recovery.
It doesn’t matter that you might not have been in treatment at the same time. It’s okay if you’re not the most socially-extroverted person. Simply attending an event now and again keeps you in touch with other people who understand the path you walk, know how important it is, and know how to “do the work.”
That last benefit of community—more connections means more chances of success–is also an extra perk:
- A casual conversation at a weekly gathering might lead to a better job opportunity.
- Someone whose company you enjoy but only see occasionally at one of these events might move to your city, which gives you a chance to build a stronger relationship.
- Maybe you’re teetering on the edge of relapse but muster up the courage to attend an alumni gathering and, through the support you find there, reestablish why your sobriety matters.
We Are Here To Help
In addition to continuing care groups, lectures, workshops, and more formal events, Twin Lakes Recovery Center hosts weekly alumni aftercare groups in Athens, Gainesville, and Monroe. Our commitment to your best life doesn’t end when you leave our grounds. Learn more about how we continue to be the foundation of your recovery community.