Research indicates that 80% to 95% of people with a tobacco or alcohol addiction relapse in a year. Preventing relapse is crucial to successfully recovering from an alcohol or substance use disorder.
Many factors make lasting sobriety more likely if individuals decide to add a peer support community as a part of their relapse prevention plan. Good support is important to get through rough times. That includes overcoming addiction.
Why Peer Support Is Crucial To a Relapse Prevention Plan
It Holds Community Members Accountable
Accountability doesn’t mean recovering individuals should beat themselves up if they relapse. However, there are consequences when a person relapses while committing to a sober living facility. For instance, they’ll get kicked out of the facility if they’re found with any drugs and alcohol on them or in their system.
That means they’ll lose their place to live and the constant support of their peers. Yet, peers will constantly hold each other accountable for their actions and skewed thoughts before it reaches that tipping point. Constructive criticism from like-minded peers can help recovering addicts stop negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Peer Support Communities Make It Easier to Cope Positively
Those struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder often have emotional pain. They try to mask this pain with drugs and alcohol. While this may help in the short-term, it won’t help in the long run. When members of a sober living community are faced with a difficult situation, they’ll have a shoulder to lean on. Hardships are inevitable. But peer support can help a person get through them.
Peers Can Inspire Those Around Them
Struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction can feel lonely. It can feel this way even when a person is done with their treatment. They could feel like they’re struggling with sobriety and that those around them don’t know how it feels.
Members of a peer support community are there to show each other that staying sober is difficult, but it’s possible and will happen if they work on it together. This idea inspires each person to ignore the temptation of drugs and alcohol although it can seem impossible at times.
Studies Show Peer Support Communities Help a Relapse Prevention Plan
Multiple studies prove that a peer support community act as a powerful addition to any relapse plan. For instance, one study of 300 participants found that residents in a sober living community were able to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Additionally, the study saw that it helped them stay employed and avoid getting arrested in the process. Also, their psychiatric symptoms improved as a result.
Another example is a study, called Rat Park, which was a cornerstone to addiction recovery when it came out. There were two groups of rats. One group of rats were placed in isolation with a drug-filled dropper. The isolated rats excessively drank from the dropper and many of them faced untimely deaths.
The other group of rats was also given a morphine-filled dropper but they were all placed together in a group. These rats drank from the dropper, but much less than the other group. Their survival rate was much higher because they had their rodent peers to depend on.
What Is a Peer Support Community?
A peer support community is a community of people that dealt with the same struggles. This can apply to people suffering from a substance use disorder or a mental illness alone. Members of a peer support community band together to work towards a healthier, more positive lifestyle every day.
Substance use disorder treatment is essential to recovery. But the temptation of drugs and alcohol doesn’t disappear after treatment. There is power in peer support, which helps individuals struggling with addiction succeed when their initial treatment is over.
There are different types of peer support communities. Sober living and other aftercare programs can help individuals develop a robust sobriety plan after treatment. Neglecting to form a relapse plan without a peer support community in mind will make it less effective.
Sober Living Facilities
A sober living facility is a good bridge between addiction recovery and living a new life. A halfway house is the government-funded form of a sober living home. Of course, part of lasting recovery is having a safety net to fall back on when triggered.
Other benefits of a sober living facility include:
- Provides a safe and tranquil environment
- Being surrounded by people that care about sobriety just as much as you do
- Less of a struggle to maintain sobriety
- Removes external triggers from getting in the way of a relapse prevention plan
- Lets people maintain their responsibilities (ie: go to work or school)
- It costs less than most inpatient rehab programs
- Helps residents figure out daily chores without any extra work
- Additional amenities might include an on-site chef, a pool, spa, and massage therapists
- Any temptation is forbidden (ie: mouthwash or nail polish remover with alcohol in it)
Sober living facilities are almost the same as any other residential community. However, it provides more accountability. Residents of a sober living community will have a curfew and get tested for drugs and alcohol randomly. The most important detail of a community like this is being among peers all working toward the same goal: long-term sobriety.
While sober living communities are the best addition to a relapse plan, there are other forms of peer support communities. Two are therapeutic communities and recovery housing. Each has respective benefits which may appeal to certain individuals over a sober living facility. Though, it’s worth noting that a long-term plan is more likely to result in a long-term solution.
A therapeutic community is a peer support community that a recovering addict can be a part of for around 6 to 12 months. It’s extremely structured and continues treatment during a person’s stay. Residents will often be required to see a therapist or be a part of a therapy group during their stay. Both staff members and peers work together to continue the recovery process.
This is a form of peer support community only meant to be a short-term solution. Unlike a therapeutic community, it has a loose structure where residents won’t get an extensive amount of help. The point of recovery housing is mainly to connect individuals with external resources.
This might be a solution for those who don’t feel like they’re in desperate need of a relapse plan. However, every person who struggled with addiction needs a relapse prevention plan to succeed over time. Otherwise, they might find themselves back at square one. That’s not to say that slips don’t happen, they’re just less likely with a strong support network.
What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is a strategy to maintain sobriety after treatment. It’s dangerous to think that the process of recovery is over once treatment is completed. Thinking this is an easy way to slip back into the clutches of a drug or alcohol addiction.
Coming up with a relapse plan alone is difficult to do. Addiction specialists can help those suffering from an alcohol or substance use disorder create a personalized plan to better ensure lifetime sobriety. There are a couple of relapse prevention models to help craft a plan.
CENAPS Model of Relapse Prevention
This relapse prevention model is also known as the Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model or just as the Gorski Relapse Prevention Plan. There are nine principles in total. A theme throughout the model is the need for peer support. The nine principles are:
- Self-regulation – Use physical, psychological, and social stabilization techniques to help a person independently stay sober
- Integration – Ask individuals to make a self-assessment of their strengths and shortcomings
- Understanding – Recovering addicts should understand what leads people to relapse (aka relapse education)
- Self-knowledge – Identify what are signs of possible relapse before it happens
- Coping skills – Using healthy coping skills to avoid the temptation of drugs and alcohol, especially when warning signs are present (this includes reaching out to peers for support)
- Change – Asks recovering individuals to review their relapse plan and make any tweaks if necessary
- Awareness – Constantly take inventory of where they are at without judgment, which makes it easier over time
- Support – Involve significant others in the relapse plan
- Maintenance – Have a follow-up plan
This is another model that helps recovering addicts maintain sobriety after treatment. It theorizes that those who struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction are faced with factors that may help or hinder their progress (tonic and phasic).
Tonic influences help people see how likely they are to relapse. Phasic influences can cause or prevent relapse. It builds upon the CENAPS model to some extent. A core belief of this model is using healthy coping mechanisms to stay sober. Getting help from peers is a way to do this.
Make Our Peer Support Community Part of Your Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan isn’t complete without a peer support community. Casa Nuevo Vida provides a safe environment to maintain sobriety without worrying about neglecting responsibilities. A sober living home shows residents that they’re not alone. Join the family and contact us now.