Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Addiction isn’t easy to overcome. Individuals with severe or chronic conditions like diabetes or cancer may have difficulty quitting addictive behaviors. Unfortunately, unhealthy habits may increase the likelihood of acquiring specific diseases or worsen the disease’s symptoms if it’s already present. 

For example, smoking may help increase the risk of mesothelioma, a difficult-to-treat, aggressive cancer usually caused by asbestos exposure. At the same time, mesothelioma usually affects the lungs so smoking may complicate its symptoms. These symptoms vary depending on the condition’s progress. Check this guide to mesothelioma stages for more information on the disease’s symptoms.

While people find it extremely challenging to quit addictive behaviors, peer support groups can help in addiction treatment. 

What are the potential benefits of peer support groups for addiction treatment? How can a peer support group help individuals manage their treatment effectively? 

This article lists and explains the possible benefits of peer support groups in addiction treatment. The write-up also provides an overview of the adverse health effects of specific addictions.

 

7 Ways Peer Support Groups May Benefit Addiction Treatment

 

The application of peer support during and after treatment has been gaining popularity due to its potential advantages for those struggling with recovering their social lives from addiction. Peer group participants can support each other in the following ways:

  • Emotional support: Peers can offer feedback in a way that is most helpful to the individual since they usually understand their needs and emotional responses.
  • Instrumental support: Peer group support can also assist in developing new skills that participants can share with others. This benefit boosts individuals’ confidence and feelings of competence.
  • Informational support: Peers can exchange expertise and information on a lateral level, avoiding issues of pushing back against authorities.
  • Affiliation support: Regular interactions with peers foster a sense of belonging to a community they count on for support and a setting where one’s skills can benefit others.

Here are some specific ways peer support groups’ can benefit addiction treatment:

 

Get Encouragement and Advice From a Mentor

 

Peer support often involves meeting with a mentor, who might be a person you talk to one-on-one, or a member of a larger group who has maintained long-term sobriety and participates in support groups.

Participants can gain significant motivation to overcome addiction by learning from someone who has been in their position but is a little further along their path.

For example, mentors can help individuals realize they can beat addiction despite how they view their current progress.

 

Decrease Drug and Alcohol Usage

 

A study from the Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation journal showed that peer support programs in conjunction with addiction treatment might help decrease alcohol and drug use.

Mental health professionals usually recommend that patients join peer support groups after rehabilitation programs to help with addiction recovery.  

For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a 12-step program, is one of the most well-known peer support groups worldwide.

Research suggests that AA is 60% more effective than other interventions. 

The studies above indicate that peer support groups are crucial to addiction treatment.

 

Complete Treatment

 

Systematic reviews also indicate that peer support groups can help increase treatment retention, improve relationships with treatment providers and social support, increase satisfaction, and reduce relapse rates.

In other words, support communities help individuals complete their treatment programs and avoid regression.

 

Build Friendships

 

Addiction can lead to unhealthy isolation. A peer group can help individuals build and develop positive lifelong connections.

In a support group, most of the people you’ll encounter are sympathetic and open since they also have personal experience with addiction. Openness and mutual care help people bond together and increase their chances of overcoming addiction.

 

Have Accountability

 

A community gives participants a sense of accountability that other types of interventions don’t. Social pressure from peer support groups can help sustain an individual’s effort to abstain from addictive behaviors.

Such positive social obligations give participants the sense that they’re working as a team to lead sober and more productive lives.

 

A Sense of Belonging

 

People battling addiction find it extra challenging to overcome their struggles because they feel out of place. Joining a peer support group is one of the most effective ways for individuals to find purpose and a sense of belonging. 

 

Helping the Next Person

 

Peer support plays a significant role in motivating people who have made considerable progress with their treatment to share their knowledge and experience with others in the future.

Studies show that helping others help people with alcohol and drug addiction stay sober.

Additionally, individuals who have benefited from peer support groups often want to help others recover from addiction. Consequently, these people can return to support communities in the future to encourage others in their recovery efforts.

Those people can volunteer in the facility they attended to offer advice and, indirectly, stir up the cycle of peer support.

 

Organizing Peer Support Groups

 

Generally, peer support groups are under the oversight of similar service providers and follow the same format.

For instance, home facilities that offer residential care after a treatment program ends are one of the most common facilitators of peer support groups.

At home facilities, residents can use counseling and behavior therapy to help them manage problems in rebuilding a life after addiction.

Moreover, peer recovery communities usually assign a peer leader to oversee participants’ compliance with the rules and the upkeep of the facility’s planned organizational structure. 

With support group programs, participants get together regularly to discuss issues and create ways to assist each other in their daily progress.

 

Conclusion

 

Individuals fighting addiction tend to isolate themselves a lot. They’ve grown accustomed to hiding their addiction.

Consequently, some people find it challenging to open up in therapy. However, peer support groups can help bring people together. This strategy encourages participants to communicate openly and show mutual support and care.

Moreover, individuals who have developed trustworthy relationships through group therapy and peer activities may find it much easier to stick with their treatment and overcome their addiction.

Thanks to peer support group options, people can have more resources to rebuild their social lives. 

Lastly, peer support groups allow people access to a network of allies that can support them on their journey. Once they’ve sustained sobriety, they can use the skills they’ve acquired in support groups to help others recover from addiction.

 

References

  1. Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047716/

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/03/alcoholics-anonymous-most-effective-path-to-alcohol-abstinence.html

  1. Can Helping Others Keep You Sober?

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_helping_others_keep_you_sober