Recently, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a working definition of recovery from substance abuse and/or mental illness. SAMHSA describes recovery as:
A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
Furthermore, SAMHSA outlined four major areas in which recovery takes place: health (overcoming the disease of addiction or illness), home (having a stable and safe place to live), purpose (engaging in meaningful activities), and community (having supportive relationships and social networks).
Tending to each of these life areas is essential in the recovery process. However, having a community and a healthy social network might be one of the preliminary elements to recovery. For instance, when an individual chooses to become sober, they typically attend a treatment center, which immediately includes becoming a part of a health-oriented community. Then, that community extends to a halfway house and later to a large community of sober living oriented men and women through AA meetings, for example. And when an individual is finishing his or her out-of-home treatment, another way to extend a healthy network of support is to participate in sober mentoring.
Mentoring is simply learning from another through one on one teaching. Mentors can be guides in the delicate experiences of life, and studies show that they have been incredibly effective. For example, mentoring programs in schools have had a large impact on the education of teens. Mentoring programs for professionals have supported advancement in careers and achieving what you may not have thought you could achieve.
With sober mentoring, the same is true. Sober mentoring is a way to stay in close touch with your sobriety. Once you return from sober living program back to your home community, there may be risky situations that could jeopardize your recovery. Having a mentor can shield you from those risky situations, facilitating healthy decisions, serving as a reminder of your sobriety, and supporting you in your long-term goals.
SAMHSA also pointed out that: An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover.
People who offer hope, support and encouragement and who also suggest strategies and resources for change in their own way are providing sober mentoring. However, sober mentoring is also a formal service that some facilities provide. Through these relationships, people leave unhealthy life roles behind in exchange for new roles that lead to empowerment, autonomy, and community engagement.
Lastly, SAMHSA also pointed out that: Recovery is based on respect.
Certainly, one of the essential components to a mentoring relationship is the respect, acceptance, appreciation, and encouragement that a mentor provides an individual in recovery. Sober mentoring can be a means to stay in recovery, perform better in life, and feel confident in your ability to achieve a sober life.
Relationships are a necessary part of recovery, as SAMHSA clearly indicates. A healthy relationship, based on respect and oriented towards sobriety, can be found in sober mentoring.
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