Why You Should Be Involved in Your Rehab’s Alumni Program

Many rehabilitation programs have alumni programs that are a great way to help you in your recovery. The relationships established and maintained in rehab alumni groups can be an important foundation of your support network. You need continual support because addiction is a complex chronic disease where ongoing treatment is essential to stay clean. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse,[1] the definition of addiction is that it is a chronic disease that includes compulsive drug seeking and drug use despite the harmful circumstances. Addiction is considered to be a brain disease because the drug use changes the brain — specifically in its structure and how it works. These changes are long-lasting and also result in the many different harmful behaviors seen from those who abuse drugs. An addict does not choose to continue to be addicted to drugs (or any other substance or behavior).

When you were in rehab, group therapy was useful in the recovery process. You had the opportunity to talk with others who were also in the same place and facing similar struggles. You’ll receive many similar benefits by joining your rehab’s alumni program, such as:

Staying connected with your rehab community.  

Remember, these are not strangers you don’t know. In most cases, you have spent quality time in rehab together with these individuals. You’ve laughed, you’ve cried and you have cheered each other on. Even if you don’t know some of the group members, they spent time in the same facility that you have. You already have a common bond there and in the pursuit of recovery. Community enriches life by giving you encouragement, support and positive input. People meant to live in community, not in isolation. When you are isolated, you face more struggles in your recovery. You are much more likely to feel lonely, which often leads to depression and is often connected with relapse. When you are engaged with community, you can actually give your life more balance and structure. There are often many events that you can participate in. For example, there may be a picnic or cookout that you can attend or a race that you can train for and then participate in, which would be a great way to stay in shape. Some alumni groups even have different classes you can attend for free or a low cost. For example, a mindfulness class could be a great way where you can practice group meditation and then have a group discussion. Some groups even have a movie night where you can just enjoy time together in a very comfortable informal setting.

You will heal better when in community.

Again, being part of an alumni group ensures you are with others who have been where you are. You likely already have existing relationships with these individuals. If you are currently struggling this is a great way to get inspiration and to reach out for support. Some alumni dinners or meetings may include an inspirational story of someone who has been successful in their recovery. As you heal, you also grow. You will find yourself stronger through your community just as a rope that has more than one single strand is stronger and a chain requires more than one link to be useful.

Alumni groups often have options for aftercare.

Continued treatment is often where many individuals struggle in their recoveries. Finding the right support group to attend can be difficult in some cases. For example, there are often many Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous groups in your town. Each one is different. If you do not find one that you feel is a good fit, you may not know where else to look for a support group. With most alumni groups, you likely have many different options for support groups. Some aftercare programs include specific helpful information to help you in your recovery such as peer processing groups, and a safe place to talk about and discuss relapse triggers.

Connecting with your alumni group can keep momentum going or even inspire you to get back on track. Recovery is a lifelong process. Statistics[2] show that once you reach the five year mark of sobriety you are much more likely to stay sober. There are many options available to find support today to help you maintain your sobriety, so be intentional and get help. This is one of — if not the biggest step — you can take in living a sober life. If you would like more information about the recovery process or if you need some help in finding support, please call our helpline and talk to one of our counselors. They are there to help you in recovery and will answer all of your questions.

[1] https://archives.drugabuse.gov/publications/drug-abuse-addiction-one-americas-most-challenging-public-health-problems/addiction-chronic-disease  Addiction is a Chronic Disease, The National Institute of Drug Abuse

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986709 An eight-year perspective on the relationship between the duration of abstinence and other aspects of recovery , Dennis ML


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