Drug and Alcohol Counselling: The Power Of Peer Support

Drug and Alcohol Counselling: The Power Of Peer Support In Recovery

Embarking on a path to seek support for drugs and alcohol can be an empowering journey of self-discovery and growth. Drug and alcohol counselling is a way for people to receive professional and non-judgemental guidance and support, as well as learn effective strategies they can apply in their day-to-day lives.

We often find that people who seek support can be reluctant to talk about their experiences due to the stigma and shame that is associated with their behaviour, or in society generally about addiction. Therefore, it’s important that drug and alcohol counselling draws on the personal lived experiences of not only those who seek help but also those who provide support to others.  

This is where peer support comes in, offering a unique source of relatability and inspiration. By connecting with individuals who have walked a similar path, people can discover a supportive community, a deep sense of understanding, and shared experiences that can fuel their motivation and equip them with the tools they need to achieve lasting change. 

What is Peer Support in Addiction Recovery?

In the context of drug and alcohol counselling, peer support involves connecting with individuals who have faced similar challenges with drugs and alcohol but also the behaviours, thoughts and feelings that sit underneath them.

These individuals, often referred to as ‘peer supporters,’ have their own personal experiences of living with addictive behaviours and understand the complexities involved in achieving and maintaining recovery.

The Impact of Connecting With Your Peers

Australians who received support from friends, family, or support groups with first-hand experience of addiction are  more likely to report abstaining from drugs or reducing their use in the past year. 

This highlights the positive impact that connecting with others who share similar experiences can have on the recovery process.

There are a variety of benefits you can gain from connecting with professionals and people in your community that have first-hand experience of addiction recovery:

  • Understanding and Empathy: Peer supporters can relate to the unique challenges faced by individuals in recovery, which gives people a sense of understanding and belonging, that helps to reduce feelings of isolation and low self-esteem
  • Shared Experiences: Connecting with others who have walked a similar path can provide valuable insights and strategies for overcoming obstacles.
  • Hope and inspiration: Witnessing the success of others in recovery can offer hope and motivation to those on their journey.
  • Reduced Stigma: Engaging with a supportive community can help individuals feel less alone and reduce the stigma often associated with addiction.

The Role of Peer Supporters at SMART Recovery Australia

At SMART Recovery Australia, we prioritise the power of peer support through a unique approach. We have a tailored pathway for people with lived and living expertise to become a SMART Recovery Facilitator.  

When people attend our online and in-person SMART meetings, they can expect:

  • Diverse Backgrounds: Peer supporters come from diverse backgrounds and possess shared lived experiences with addiction recovery. These include Peer Support Workers from First Nations and LGBTQI+ communities who can offer their own unique perspective to help others within the same communities.
  • Sense of Community: We’re all about open and honest conversations. Our meetings foster a sense of community and belonging, providing a safe space for open dialogue, sharing and collaboration.
  • Non-Judgement Environment: Attendees are encouraged to share their experiences openly and honestly, fostering mutual support and growth. 

This combination of shared experiences, diverse perspectives, and a supportive environment creates a nurturing and empowering opportunity for individuals to understand their behaviours better and make positive steps to live a healthier and more balanced life.

Find Out More

If you'd like to learn more about free drug and alcohol counselling in your local area, as well as how SMART Recovery Australia can support your journey, or that of a loved one, click here.

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