When someone steps out of rehab and into a new life free from the substances that once bound them, they can expect to face some challenges. Maintaining their sobriety could be among them, but there’s comfort in knowing that no one has to do it alone. Alumni groups are one way to ensure support is there through the tough times after treatment. They allow participants to establish and maintain a bond with others based on their shared experiences of overcoming substance abuse and addiction.
Once a person has resolved to start life anew without addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, it can be challenging to find people, events, and activities that support their sobriety and goals to stay away from the things that triggered their substance abuse and addiction in the first place.
An Alumni Group Offers Opportunities to:
- Learn coping skills, strategies, and shared ideas
- Care for one’s self and look after one’s needs
- Reaffirm your commitment to recovery on a daily, regular basis
- Meet people who have the same or similar experiences as you
- Establish friendships and connections that could last a lifetime
- Inspire others and serve as an example of achieving success in recovery
- And so much more!
Should You Join an Alumni Group?
The decision to join an alumni group is personal, and just like with other things, it is not for everyone. But if you’re looking for emotional and moral support from people who are not in your immediate circle, such a group can offer those things, which are important in life in recovery.
“Probably the biggest advantage of support groups is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone–that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person,” writes WebMD in an article about the benefits of support groups.
What Kind of Alumni Group Should You Look For?
As Rich Knutson explains in his article for The Fix titled, “Rehab Alumni: Stay Close and Stay Sober,” alumni fall into two groups: ones that are linked to treatment centers and ones that are organized and supported by participants who are in recovery.
When seeking out an alumni group, here are things to look for:
Group philosophy. Each alumni group will have its own format and approach, so you will have to find one that is in sync with what you’re looking for. It should complement your own goals and needs. Keep in mind any cultural, ethnic, or religious needs you have as well. Some groups may follow a 12-step program or require members to be sober for a certain period; others might be less stringent. Some may include a relapse prevention component or offer resources that offer relapse support. You also will have to check for details, such as what times the group meets and if attendance is required or if there is more flexibility, as well as if there is an entry or participant fee.
Commitment. Aim to link up with people who have the same goals you do and are serious about meeting and maintaining them. Find people who are committed to living a sober and healthy life and willing to do what it takes to stay on that road. That means they show up and participate and encourage others to participate, too. These are people who have a clear vision of what they need to be successful, and they do what they can to ensure success happens.
Accountability. When staying on the path, every day gets tough. That’s when you’ll need people who care about you to hold you accountable to the commitment you made to remain sober. Having people check in with you to see how you’re feeling is a plus of being part of an alumni group. “In our alumni group, if you started to stray away, we jokingly said you would be getting a phone call to be put on the ‘hot seat.’ This meant you would be invited to meet for coffee and ‘explain’ what was going on—why were you slipping away? Without fail, these people would be back and telling everyone how good it felt to be cared about enough to be put on the ‘hot seat.’ I saw this as unconditional love working at its best,” Knutson wrote in his article for The Fix.
Confidentiality. You want to join a group of people who you feel comfortable opening up to about your personal feelings. Trust is a must, and it can take time building these relationships. As WebMD reminds in its article, “everything that takes place within the support group should be kept confidential.” When seeking out an alumni group, check in with your feelings to see if the people you are opening up to are indeed the right people. If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s likely best to find another group.
Fun people who are having fun. No one wants to join a boring group of folks, especially when it comes to social activities. Look for people who are having sober fun and are having a blast doing it. This could make you more likely to stick with the group and engage you in ways that encourage you to go out and find more places to hang out and things to do. The more happy, healthy activities, the better for everyone!
If you, or a loved one, are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, California Highlands is available 24-7 to help you reach out to your loved one and guide them toward treatment. Call (844) 318-0074 today and learn about the treatment options that we offer at our rehab facility. At California Highlands, we provide a unique approach to recovery, delivered with dignity and respect.