This is blog 8 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic. There are substantial numbers of people who go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, not because they are alcohol abusers, but because they heard you can get support there, that you can get acceptance there, that you can get a sense of being taken for who you are, unconditionally loved. They weren’t getting that elsewhere in their lives, and so they were going to AA meetings.
If I have a best friend who’s concerned about me, he might say “Hey, what’s going on?” If I have a mental health challenge, a supporter or support group will do the same thing, if I allow them to. That helps me to be a more successful person, whether it’s because my best friend is telling me I’m acting like a butt-head, or because I’m having warning signs that need to be addressed. You have to work with it by making lifestyle changes, by being willing to accept feedback.
We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations Arizona (RIAZ) both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others. The WRAP program through RIAZ makes a difference in peoples’ lives.
K describes, “I can get on the phone and call somebody and share that something’s going on with me or I’m having a rough day. There are times when I do experience a challenge, but my Wellness Recovery Action Plan helps me out with that. If we’re not feeling well, we’ll call in and say, ‘I’m not feeling well today.’ Our director will ask us, ‘What percent not feeling well, like 1 to 100?’ I’ll say, ‘Well, I’m feeling 80%.’ She’ll say, ‘Well, can you give me 100% of that 80%?’ She encourages us to still go to work, if it’s mental, if it’s not physical. We all experience challenges at times and our coworkers can help one another out. That’s one of the good things about our job.”
M further explains how it’s working together, “with the people at the hospital, the doctors, ourselves and the ones who help us then the most, our peers. I’m one of them. They say, ‘Well, how can you do this? I didn’t know that you had a problem.’ I explain, ‘Well, I do, but I take my medicine and I do what I need to do for recovery and that’s how I make recovery work for me.’ It’s a wellness action plan.’”
Daily maintenance is an important theme that the peer counselors advocate. This wellness action plan must be worked on a regular basis. It’s like the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. You just don’t do it to get sober; you do it to get recovery, which is a day-by-day event. Things that you do on a daily basis keep you well. That’s one of the topics in Recovery.
In the next blog, we’ll share more information about Recovery Innovations.