The Importance of Developing Alumni Programs in Recovery
Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and founding board member of High Watch Recovery Center, Bill Wilson, once wrote on the concept of service in recovery, “And he well knows that his own life has been made richer, as an extra dividend of giving to another without any demand in return.” This is one of the primary messages that should be integrated into developing an alumni program in recovery.
The idea that recovery concludes once an individual leaves a treatment center is a misconception. Yes, for some, sobriety can be maintained post-treatment center. However, there is a difference between long-term sobriety and long-term recovery. That difference lies in serenity, service, and growth. This service aspect is especially crucial because it allows your guests to offer your services to other members of their 12-Step community.
There is a belief held by many in the recovery community that one of the primary purposes of those in recovery is to be of service to their peers. Developing an alumni program can help with ensuring that your guests engage with this purpose. However, creating an alumni network does not simply benefit the individual. It also helps those in the professional sphere maintain a connection with their guests, grow their business, and generate different avenues for guests to discover their services.
The Benefits of an Alumni Program in Recovery
An alumni program can work in tandem post-treatment to positively enhance your professional recovery objective. Developing an alumni program allows you to keep an open line of communication with guests. In doing so, you can track their progress and adjust their program as needed.
Isolation can be extremely detrimental to those that are in recovery. However, it is often an automatic action for many that are struggling in their recovery because it was often a staple of their addiction. An alumni program can help eliminate this potential isolation by allowing them access to like-minded individuals.
The primary text of AA (most commonly known as the “Big Book”) states that “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much as insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.” By connecting with your guest, you help them connect with others, and that connection can help all parties succeed. This can all be accomplished by reaching out to institutions that already offer alumni programs. High Watch Recovery, for example, is a highly regarded authority on alumni associations.
The Foundation of Alumni Programs in Recovery
Nearly 88 years ago, Bill Wilson and Robert Holbrook Smith determined that recovery from alcoholism relied on one significant step: service. Thus, one of the primary tenets of AA was formed. In helping their fellows find recovery, they would, in turn, better ensure their own.
This is the same concept that carries over into the creation of a recovery alumni program. Yes, the initial goal of recovery is first to help your guest get sober. The second goal is to create a foundation of recovery that will help carry them forward.
However, as strong as that foundation is built in early recovery, there is a tendency for that foundation to experience cracks once a guest leaves your doors and heads out into the “real world.” An alumni program can help prevent those cracks from forming and provide the mortar to fix them if they should surface.
The Importance of an Alumni Program in Recovery
The academic journal Current Psychiatry Reports offers some sobering statistics when it comes to relapse in recovery. The journal states, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment” and that “for 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment.”
With staggering statistics such as these, there can be no more critical reason to utilize all the tools at your disposal. The primary purpose of recovery is not simply to attain sobriety; it is to retain a program of recovery. Maintaining a connection with you is one of the best ways for your guests to preserve that retention.
The ‘Finish Line Fallacy’
Contrary to what many outside of the professional recovery sphere think, recovery is not about an end goal. It is about the journey, not the destination. The “finish line” is a fallacy. It is merely a mirage. The real goal is to keep growing daily.
The takeaways here are that alumni programs are beneficial to both the healthcare professional and the guest. The professional better ensures success while also connecting with other potential guests. The guest strengthens their recovery chances while also opening up the opportunity to help other alumni succeed.
Developing an alumni program can make long-term recovery a reality. They say recovery is a simple solution for complicated people. An alumni program will help your guests uncomplicate their lives outside of your constant care, so they can go on to live the type of fulfilled life you’ve both worked so hard to achieve.
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