When people think of treatment, they don't often consider talking with peers to be part of it. However, establishing communications with your fellow peers can be vital to not only achieving recovery but staying in it.
This is because human beings are social creatures. We don't do very well when we are alone and isolated. To be healthy, we need to be heard and seen and to find support from our fellow people. Sadly, many people with mental health disorders, illnesses, and addictions are often stigmatized. Stigma causes society to look down on these people and make them feel as though they do not deserve companionship. This is not true at all, and learning that you are worthy of connections and support is an important part of treatment.
Talking with peers is often a common part of treatment programs, especially for those with substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction. Mental health care facilities, like Pathways Wellness Center, utilize this peer connection to aid clients on their journey of recovery.
To understand why talking with peers is so important, we must understand what people gain when they make this connection.
A peer is someone who shares similar traits to you. This can mean many things, such as age, gender, and regional origin. However, a peer can also be someone who has struggled like you have, especially if there is a shared mental health disorder or illness. This factor transcends age, gender, and region, which leaves you with a wide range of people with countless different lives. However, they are all connected by that one similar point.
This means that a wealth of wisdom and information is available to you from someone who understands what you are going through. There, they can share what they have learned with you. Perhaps one has made a serious mistake in their past that lead them to a relapse. They can discuss this mistake with you, warning you so you don't make the same mistake they did. Knowledge, when not lost, is shared, and you can go to make sure others don't make that same mistake by sharing what you have learned.
Talking with peers can also help you make important decisions during your treatment and recovery. Perhaps you'd like to try a specific form of therapy but are unsure what to expect. You can ask your peers to see if any of them have tried that specific therapy. Then, you can ask questions and hear about their particular experience with it. By talking with peers, you can help cut down on the fear and uncertainty you can feel during and after treatment.
Being in recovery isn't always easy. Mental health care facilities, like Pathways Wellness Center, work hard to give clients the skills and resources they need to succeed during and after treatment. These are very valuable skills to have, but it can be nerve-wracking to put them into real-world practice. There's a difference between practicing a coping skill in the safety of a therapist's office and having to use the said skill in a real-world situation. It can be easy to doubt yourself, especially when you are back in society.
However, you don't have to do it alone, as long as you stay in contact with your peers. Talking with peers can give you the support you need to help you get through daily life in recovery. If you ever have difficulties coping with a stressor, you can simply contact a peer for advice on what to do. This plays back into the shared wisdom aspect, especially if you are dealing with a stressor you don't understand.
For example, not many people know how to unclog a drain, and it can be stressful to deal with. Calling a peer who has done home maintenance for a long time can usually give you advice on how to unclog your drain with minimal stress.
It's not just useful for daily living but also for more serious issues as well. An example of this is cravings. For those who are in recovery from addiction, there may be times when they feel the urge to use again. Sometimes this can be the result of a triggering situation, or these feelings can just pop up. If you are worried that you may succumb to this urge, you can talk with a peer who has dealt with cravings before. They can help you work through the craving and redirect you to something healthier to focus on.
You can find fellow peers in several different places. One way is to participate in a treatment program that features group therapy. This type of therapy allows someone to receive therapy alongside their fellow peers. Those who decide to enter a residential treatment program will often get to interact with their peers in either leisure time or in group therapy.
You can also find peers in support groups. Support groups are not the same as group therapy. People in a support group share their experiences and support with fellow peers living with the same conditions they are. There are many support groups out there for those living in recovery from a mental health disorder or illness. You can find support groups by contacting your local community center, hospital, library, and mental health care facility. Some websites will list support groups that are currently meeting, most of which are online through video and voice chat.
Sometimes, talking with peers can save your life, let alone your state of recovery. Relapses can and do happen, and people are not bad for experiencing them. But talking with peers can help reduce the chance of relapse, allowing you to remain in recovery.
As human beings, we crave understanding and companionship. However, that can be difficult for some to accomplish, especially when they are dealing with addiction or other mental health disorders. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Azusa and Glendora, California, we help our clients find this needed connection by promoting peer communication. Peers are those who have undergone similar trials as you have and can give valuable wisdom and advice to help aid in your recovery. Knowing that there are people out there who understand your troubles can go a long way in giving you the strength you need to recover. If you or someone you love is struggling, call (888) 771-0966 today.