Peer Support in Addiction Recovery

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In traditional 12-step addiction recovery models, a sponsor is a person who has completed the steps and has achieved a level of sobriety where they no longer feel compelled to consume alcohol or drugs. They’re also usually stable in their work and relationships and practiced at managing their emotions effectively. A sponsor assists someone new in recovery in navigating the journey, and could potentially even provide friendship along the way.

While St. Gregory Recovery Center does not promote the 12-step path to recovery, we do recognize the power of community in recovery support. We see a “sponsor relationship” as any mentoring relationship a person might have to help them anticipate and curb addiction relapse triggers. In this sense, one person can support another by offering accountability and feedback. A peer mentor can also serve as a confidential sounding board for discussions of topics that can’t be easily shared with loved ones. It’s safe to say that the presence of a trustworthy, supportive peer is a fundamental aspect of achieving lasting success in recovery.

Supporting Core Recovery Goals

Accountability is essential for success in all aspects of life, not just recovery. Studies have shown that accountability increases productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. For those in recovery, accountability is critical to maintaining a sober lifestyle.

To make progress in recovery, you must hold yourself accountable and engage in regular self-assessments, be honest about your failures, and be open to confessing them to others. This requires a deep commitment to change and a willingness to let go of exactly what you can clearly see is holding you back.

Taking your own personal inventory regularly and promptly acknowledging and correcting your mistakes is vital to maintaining progress and avoiding relapse. While this process can be frustrating and, frankly, exhausting, it gets you where you want to be: sober, happy, and independent. 

Another scientifically supported perk of sponsorship is its wide reach when it comes to community and social engagement. Regularly interacting with another person you trust and enjoy makes the sobriety journey more attractive. You can gain motivation from hearing each other’s stories and witnessing each other’s successes. If peer support in recovery is starting to sound sustainable and healthy, that’s because it is. 

Gracefully Embracing Constructive Criticism 

One part of accountability is the willingness to hear hard truths about yourself. Here are a few pointers for the graceful reception of tough feedback: 

  • Keep your calm. Take deep breaths. Remember that your support person speaks from experience, not from a place of judgment. 
  • Try not to interrupt. It’s natural to feel defensive, but remember that your sober peer has your best interests at heart and is trying to help you, not attack you.
  • Take all the time you need to reflect on what’s being said. Take this tip more seriously if you have a solid, uplifting relationship with your peer. If the feedback is particularly painful, consider asking for some space and explaining that you need time to reflect before continuing the conversation.
  • Search for positive takeaways or ask your peer to provide examples of how you can improve. 
  • Be kind and forgiving with yourself. Remember that recovery is a process, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Put what you’ve learned into action, continue building good habits, and stay open to change. Your peer in recovery is there to help you grow.

Overall, try to see the accountability process as a vehicle for building life skills. While receiving criticism can be difficult, it can also be a valuable learning experience. 

Get Recovery Support at St. Gregory Recovery Center

If you have questions, concerns, or doubts about how to get the support you need in recovery, don’t hesitate to contact our Iowa facility today. St. Gregory’s is here to support you and your personal development throughout your recovery journey. 

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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