It is clear that the community plays a role in the recovery of an individual, but it also impacts the recovery process of the entire community. There is a method of recovery called community recovery.
In the Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, there is an article titled “The Community As The Patient: Recovery-Focused Community Mobilization in Philadelphia PA (USA).” The article outlines what community mobilization looks like with regard to addiction recovery and explains the powerful force that relying on one another during recovery has for successful abstinence and improvement of society. Community recovery is “more than the individual recovery of community members. It involves ‘strengthening the connective tissue’ between people with and without active alcohol and other drug problems, while rebuilding and sustaining the quality of community life.”
There have been exploratory studies on the “community’s role in the promotion of recovery from addiction and prevention of relapse among women.” The objective of the study was to understand how the community can expand recovery efforts from addiction and the prevention of “relapse among women, and the differences in women’s addiction and recovery by ethnicity.” Communities were categorized as home, church, workplace, school, law enforcement, and the medical care system. The study explored what categories of community, whether that be personal, family, neighborhood, or community health systems, enhanced the recovery for individuals and families the most. In this study, ways to increase community recovery and strategies to promote drug and alcohol recovery were studied at various levels and within different populations.
Promoting Community Recovery
To launch a successful community recovery, there are “strategies of community building and rejuvenation, which can be paired with, or stand as an alternative to clinical models of intervention, depending on the needs of the community.” There are several strategies used to promote community recovery.
One of the first goals of community recovery is to inspire hope. Hope is a necessary part of a successful recovery from addiction. The rationale is that “recovery initiation hinges on changing prevailing pessimism.” The mindset in recovery needs to shift from an impossible reality to “elevating the idea that personal, family, and community recovery is both possible and a growing reality.” There are plans that the community can initiate to inspire hope. Hosting events to commemorate the success of individuals and their personal recovery in the community, as well as commemorating as each community member reaches a successful point in their recovery, are examples of strategies to inspire hope. Inspiration comes from learning from others and listening to their stories and personal journeys. As a result, recovery conferences are necessary community events to bring people together and inspire one another to hold each other accountable and increase the overall success of the community with their recoveries. The wonderful thing about community conferences is that they give people who were once a problem part of the community an opportunity to transform and mobilize their addiction issues into a solution to share with the community.
Creating a Mutual Support Network
The next goal of community recovery is to create a mutual support network for recovering communities. The rationale behind this goal seems obvious but the logic is that “internal and external recognition of local community efforts increases community self-esteem and enhances motivation for sustained system transformation efforts.” Approaches to strengthen mutual support include promoting the exchange of community successes, inviting visits with other “communities at the national and international levels for mutual support and sharing of ideas and methods.”
One of the easiest ways to take advantage of community recovery is to mobilize internal resources. Internal resources can be as simple as using community service to provide an outlet for social events, community connectivity, and purpose. The idea is that “community service is a vehicle for personal and community healing. Expanding service opportunities for people in recovery enhances personal and community recovery.”
Regaining A Sense of Trust
Trust is a necessary factor in community recovery. Integrating trust back into the community involves “maintaining consistent contact and commitment over time; ensuring transparency in all decision making, keeping promises; when wrong promptly admitted it.” Exploitation and “abandonment is the norm of distressed communities; community engagement requires a period of testing, trust building, and continuity of presence.” At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we incorporate 12-Step community programs which instill responsibility, accountability, and the feeling of belonging. It is common for individuals with addiction issues to isolate and lose sight of their responsibilities, making it even more important to incorporate them back into the community as part of their recovery care plan.
Having a united goal requires a “vision and vehicle to sustain commitment and focus.” At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we have a vision for our clients and our community. We aim to have our clients walk out of our treatment as active, law-abiding citizens, and work a job that is fulfilling and improves the community. We take steps by assisting our clients in landing a “Get Well job” and slowly transitioning them back into the community.
Getting Involved in the Community
The next step for individuals in recovery and their families seeking recovery is getting involved in the community. The goal of community recovery is to change the narrative from “I” to “we” and transform your substance use disorder recovery into a collective community recovery that expands your story beyond you. Having a community of people and a place to share experiences is essential. Individuals and families in recovery can take part and participate in 12-step programs in a practical and accessible manner. Programs like these provide an environment where you can absorb the experience, strength, and hope of others, and join in just by showing up and being present.