Certain treatment facilities offer treatment programs that are completely devoted to alumni. This gives those who have completed treatment at a facility added support once they “graduate” from the program. There are a lot of perks to these programs, such as:
- Treatment professionals who are already familiar with a client’s case history
- Continued support group participation
- Access to leading professionals in the treatment world
- Buddy systems
- Phone calls to check in on recovery after release
- Alumni social events, such as barbeques, fitness activities, and movie nights
Why Is Alumni Involvement Important?
Just because structured treatment has ended doesn’t mean clients are left on their own. A quality treatment facility wants to see the people they treat succeed at staying sober. Part of that means staying involved and receiving ongoing support. Many alumni programs offer special events with guest speakers where former clients can learn from or be inspired by others who have been in their shoes or professionals in the addiction treatment field.
Peer support is a huge component of recovery. Oftentimes, 12-Step programs or similar peer support programs may be a mandatory component of treatment, and alumni are encouraged to continuing participating in these groups after they exit formal treatment. Many treatment centers may host 12-Step meetings on their grounds, specifically for alumni to attend. Peer support systems were available at 52 percent of treatment centers in 2012, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Many rehab centers with alumni programs will call and check in on former clients from time to time, just to make sure they’re doing okay and to remind them they aren’t alone. These check-ins can serve as good reminders that others care about them and their continued recovery. In some instances, they can serve as a gentle nudge back toward treatment if needed.
Most of these programs have online networks to keep alumni in touch with one another and with treatment professionals. For example, many have groups that alumni are encouraged to join on social media sites where they can check in as often as they like, vent to likeminded peers, and stay up-to-date on events at the treatment center. This is a great way to connect with individuals who struggle with the same issues, such as having a social life while being sober, and organize get-togethers and events that complement everyone’s sober lifestyle. Roughly 66 percent of Americans drink alcohol, consuming an average of four drinks each week, per one Gallup poll, so it’s important to build up a social network that isn’t centered around alcohol or other substances.
One of the biggest benefits to alumni programs is the ability to join forces with staff members and help others who are going through treatment. When alumni manage to stay clean and sober, they can return to the facility and participate in alumni program, often serving as inspiration to those who are currently in treatment. Others who are struggling with overcoming their own dependencies, managing mental illnesses, and maintaining relationships and employment through it all can benefit from hearing alumni stories. Likewise, alumni can feel good about their choice to help others. While boosting their self-esteem, they can gain further solidarity in their sobriety by reinforcing the same behaviors and accomplishments for treatment newcomers.
While physicians, nurses, and therapists are all core parts of treating addiction and mental health disorders, a lot of people desire something more. They come to treatment hoping to hear that the hurdles they’re up against don’t have to defeat them, and that they can overcome their addiction no matter what their circumstances are. Hearing words of encouragement and success stories from prior clients who attended treatment at the same place can go a long way toward making new clients feel welcomed, at home, and hopeful.