Recovery Community Centers: Building Hope through Peer Support
Leaving treatment can be a daunting thought. You worry about all the temptations: using friends, old haunts, and stress of everyday life. Treatment taught you how to handle all your old triggers, but now you have to put theory into practice. You’ve left treatment at Alta Mira, where you learned how to you reconnect with who you are and where you want to be in life. We continue to stay in contact to guide you forward, and before leaving we helped you line up a local 12-step program and therapist, but you still are concerned about what the future holds. What if you can’t do it? What if you need more help? What else is out there?
Not all peer support programs are the same. If you find that the one you’re attending is not meeting your needs, there are other options. For example, if you find it difficult to recognize a higher power, which is a part of the 12-step process in organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, there are Secular Organizations for Sobriety or LifeRing that use a science-based, self-empowerment approach to recovery. There are options, so don’t stop looking if you don’t feel a peer-support group is working for you. Another option you may want to investigate is a recent addition to peer-support services, called a recovery community center (RCC).
Recovery Community Center
In 2004, Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery saw a need for more robust services in the vein of peer support, and established the model for nonprofit RCCs. Their goal is to bridge the gap between clinical treatment and long-term sobriety by providing hope to people in recovery. They do so by offering a wide variety of volunteer peer-to-peer support services in a nurturing environment. Central to their model is that their services have to exist in the heart of a community. Not just exist, but be a visible brick and mortar location easily identified by the community, that also acts as a positive symbol of recovery. A welcoming symbol that mitigates the shame associated with addiction.
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Just as establishing community with our variety of group and family programs is central to Alta Mira’s process, maintaining that sense of community is key to RCCs: a community of volunteers dedicated to helping those in recovery. This group consists of other addicts in recovery, family members, friends, and concerned citizens who work tirelessly to give back to their community. In doing so, RCCs become a resource for the whole community: both those seeking help and those on the periphery of a loved one’s addiction. It’s a place where volunteers can help those struggling with addiction navigate the mental health care system. They also provide a structured schedule of recovery-related workshops, training, information sessions, services, and social events. It’s all about building positive relationships that continue the work from your treatment center and lead to successful lives.
A study on RCCs revealed that initial successes in recovery were linked to the positive relationships built as a result of peer-to-peer support. Success for some was employment-related, such as helping others learn new skills, or new members learning how to improve their job application skills:
“My first success was helping someone on the computer. I was scared, I was scared to death but I found out that the little that I knew was really helpful to them. Helping someone set up an Internet e-mail or navigate on the Internet, I was floored that I knew what they didn’t know and I was happy to help.”
“My first success was the Gateway to Work project because I was able to get a job. Learning different things: how to interview better, how to explain my background and how I am in drug court, I needed to let my employers know . . . I had learned a lot.”
These little victories went a long way towards building the confidence of volunteers and members seeking help. It showed them that they could move beyond their addiction and become contributing members of their community. That they could “have a better life and it didn’t have to be 10 years down the road . . . it could be now.”
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No Better Time than the Present
Leaving the safe and nurturing environment provided by your treatment center can be a daunting thought, but you’re not alone. We will help you continue your recovery, staying in touch and helping you set up a support system. And if there is an RCC close to where you live, you can also drop by and see if there are any programs that interest you. Volunteer. Share your knowledge. Helping others builds your own confidence and self-esteem, and it can provide you with a sense of purpose in belonging to a positive peer group. It can help you reconnect with your friends and family, and may even inspire them to volunteer and help others dealing with a loved one suffering from an addiction. You can have a better life and it doesn’t have to be 10 years down the road…it can be today.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.