Humans need other humans; this is a fact that’s been proven time and time again. We need each other when things are good, but we especially need each other when life is difficult. Oftentimes, the connections we make while life is good are the ones we go back to when we need help. The same can be true of people who have been through recovery. Whether residential or outpatient treatment was received, the support of these alumni connections can heavily influence a person’s recovery.
Similar to how high schools and colleges call their graduates alumni, people who have completed treatment for substance use are also referred to as alumni. Alumni have worked hard to get to where they are and have overcome so much along the way. Since recovery is a life-long process, extra support is needed to ensure they can stay healthy and safe while sustaining the recovery they’ve worked for.
Before we discuss how alumni connections can positively impact recovery, we first need to examine some of the intricacies of recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. This definition does not describe recovery as an end state, but rather as a process.”
It’s no secret that recovery can be extremely difficult; however, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It takes time, patience, understanding, and support to get through any part of recovery.
SAMHSA goes on to explain that there are four aspects vital to a life of recovery. These are known as the four dimensions of recovery, which are:
These dimensions prioritize the patient’s overall health above all. Recovery isn’t sustainable if the patient’s physical and mental health are not being cared for. Next, it stresses the need for consistency. This includes a home that allows space for safety and a reason to press onward through recovery. Finally, it recognizes the deep need for human connection and understanding. These guidelines work together to ensure the patient is receiving the comprehensive, holistic care they need to heal healthily.
In addition to the four dimensions, SAMHSA acknowledges the role trauma plays in substance use. As a result, SAMHSA stresses the importance of receiving trauma-informed care throughout the recovery process. Having a supportive care team who are experts in the industry help to set up the patient for success.
The recovery process is different for everyone and will vary based on each individual’s needs, priorities, and overall health. SAMHSA recognizes the reality of the difficulties in recovery, stating, “Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness and managing setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.”
Humans are made for connection. While some may need it more than others, connection and community are things humans need to survive. This is especially true while in recovery. Studies show that the more involved and supported a person is, the higher their chance of recovering healthily. Luckily, there are many ways to engage in the community as alumni.
One way to connect is to find local recovery support groups. Support groups can reduce feelings of isolation, foster deep relationships, and provide hope in celebrating others’ milestones in recovery. These groups can be very impactful, especially for those that are trying to build healthy friendships with like-minded people.
Other systems of support may include safe family members, licensed professional counselors, or verified online communities. Each person’s support system will vary based on their own mental and physical health, boundaries, and geographical location.
Another form of support can come from peer support workers. Peer support workers have proven to be a very helpful connection for people who are recovering. SAMHSA explains that peer support workers are people who have already been through the recovery process. As a result, they can offer their knowledge to help someone else through recovery. “Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, peer support workers help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse.”
Peer support workers and the patient can connect uniquely since there is a shared understanding of life experiences. SAMHSA further explains, “Peer support services can effectively extend the reach of treatment beyond the clinical setting into the everyday environment of those seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.”
Most treatment centers understand how important alumni connection is for the patients’ recovery success. As a result, some treatment centers, like Sage Recovery, may host regular alumni meetings or events. This gives patients ample opportunity to reconnect with people they went through recovery with. These events also create space to establish new relationships with like-minded people, which we know is vital to recovery.
No matter where you’re at in the recovery process, whether you’ve completed treatment or are taking the first step toward healing, there is space for you. At Sage Recovery, we pride ourselves on offering holistic approaches to treatment so that you can get the individualized care you deserve. We offer outpatient services for both adolescents and adults, as well as adult-only residential treatment. We only employ masters-level clinicians and train every staff member to provide trauma-informed care. That way, you can trust you’re supported no matter where you go on our campus. For those that have completed treatment, we offer weekly alumni meetings and host alumni events regularly. When you’re ready to be supported, reach out at (512) 306-1394.