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  • Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    A place for community rundowns, special events and announcements from Counselling Online forums facilitation team.
    Peace Dove
    Community Builder
    Posts: 289
    Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 9:22 am

    Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Mon Oct 11, 2021 3:36 pm

    Hi everyone, on this occasion we’re going to talk about the benefits of peer support in online communities. :)

    The Internet and technology have changed many aspects of our lives making it possible for anyone to connect through virtual spaces with people in other places. Regardless of whether we live in a metropolitan, regional or remote place, we can all join an online community at any time from a phone, tablet or computer. Convenient, right?

    On the other hand, social support and connection is paramount for people considering to reduce or abstain from substance use and for those in active recovery. While friends and family are the frontline support for many, they might not always know how to best provide support, especially if they have not experienced addiction themselves.

    Peer support groups have been traditionally available for people experiencing addiction, such as AA and NA. However, not everyone feels comfortable attending, being identified (e.g. if you live in a small town), or can make the time either through caregiving responsibilities or busy schedules. Fortunately, peer support is now available through online communities.

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    There are many benefits to accessing peer support through online communities when dealing with issues of addiction:

    • Opens the doors to new possibilities and beginnings
    • Reduces feelings of shame and stigma by connecting to people who understand you
    • This connection also reduce the sense of isolation and loneliness
    • Helps normalise the issues people face with problematic alcohol and drugs use
    • Maintain focus on change and recovery
    • Helping and learning from each other
    • Sharing questions and information
    • Exchanging resources, tips and strategies
    • Being able to remain anonymous
    • Having a space to vent
    • Increasing feelings of acceptance, worth and belonging
    • Increasing motivation, inspiration and hope
    • Time flexible - there is no time limit to access it
    • Schedule flexible - you decide when it's convenient for you to connect
    • Participation flexibility - you can read without having to participate
    • Freedom to take a break from them at anytime you want/need to
    • Low cost - if you already have a device and internet, you’re set

    Have you used another kind of space for peer support? Can you think of other benefits of peer support via online communities? How has this forum helped you in your recovery journey? @PnorkelPW @ScorpionPW @initae89 @Tiiu @jimmy2020 @requiem4me @r_ogerthat @Ab1234 @Lee.B @DailyDoseOfHelp @Alvarosyd @Dunk @DorisDay @Jack1947 @Minnie mouse @Deyfhob @Keita @Ready2102 @UltraViolet @BonsaiBeginner @OceanSky @apples123 @Becoming cynical @epiphanyflower @EtherealAngel111 @Starlee @Katiee
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    BonsaiBeginner
    Junior Member
    Posts: 24
    Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2021 2:30 pm

    Re: Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:39 pm

    @Peace Dove Counselling Online has really helped get through a tough few months. I know I'm on a journey and I slipped back into old habits over the long weekend but I'm still determined to replace the unhealthy drinking and I'm grateful to have a forum to support my journey.
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    CRAZYGRANNY
    Junior Member
    Posts: 11
    Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:46 pm

    Re: Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:45 am

    My goodness peer support (lived experience) is something so significant for an individual’s journey and outcomes with the ability to share with another that gets you totally, understanding often from their own experiences and comes from compassion and empathy on a whole different level. Of course qualified professionals play positive and important roles also but to have the extra support from another peer can effect how much you share and how comfortable you are to do so. Over a decade of experiences with just qualified professionals had some benefits but also a lot of misunderstanding and creating negative outcomes. I have no doubt the difference my past negative experiences could have been addressed so much quicker if another had come along side of me, listened and related from their own experiences giving what could have been valuable insight to make changes long before they escalated and diagnosis and stigma became my story and my behaviour was only identified in my diagnosis given by my abuser, concreted from the beginning and believed to be the truth without acknowledging what was happening for me. When I first researched lived experience in USA several years ago I just new it was the answer. It’s the exact area I want to be Involved in and advocate for because no one should not be heard and the best individuals to do this is another peer that identifies things in your story with their own and can implement change before life becomes unmanageable and creates new issues and further traumatisation. This is the way for our future and although it’s already been introduced it’s still needing a lot more attention even extending into various personal issues being cultural, religious, LBGT, Mental health, addiction, trauma in many forms, homelessness, DV and the list goes on. THIS IS CRUCIAL FOR RECOVERY THROUGHOUT AND THE MORE ITS BROUGHT IN THE MORE POSITIVE OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK WILL BE EVIDENT.

    As you can no doubt see I’m extremely passionate about what results can come from this support and wouldn’t wish what I experienced upon anyone and would do all I can to advocate this change just grows stronger in every area and recognised by all
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    Peace Dove
    Community Builder
    Posts: 289
    Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 9:22 am

    Re: Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:41 am

    Hey @BonsaiBeginner, thank you for your kind words! :D It's great for us to know you are benefiting from using the forums, and we are very glad to have been able to be of help to you through difficult times.
    Slips are more often than not part of this learning experience. What matters is your determination to keep pushing forward towards where you want to be.
    We're always here to support you whenever you need it. :)

    @CRAZYGRANNY I love how you have summed it up pretty well and it's fantastic to see your passion for lived experience. You are very spot on, being able to talk to other people that get you can be very empowering and motivation. That's why we often here in these kind of spaces that "a problem shared is a problem halved".
    It's really good to have your voice in the forums. :D

    I would love to hear what our peer workers @PnorkelPW and @ScorpionPW insights are on this topic. :)
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    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 249
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:05 pm

    This is such a fantastic thing to highlight @Peace Dove and it's great to see your insights @BonsaiBeginner and @CRAZYGRANNY.

    Much like @CRAZYGRANNY it ultimately ended up being support from peer groups that caused me to be able to get long term recovery. For a good couple of years after realising I couldn't stop using and I had a problem I seeked help from counselors, detoxed multiple times and thought that I could control my drug use if I just didn't use certain substances and changed the ways I was using.

    When I kept ending up in the same place over and over again after attempting to change so many times I was really terrified. I was terrified because the drugs had stopped working, I didn't believe I could stop and felt like I couldn't live with or without drugs. It was at this point that I got help in 12 step groups and it was hearing other people who had been in similar rock bottoms to me but had found a new way to live, a way out and not only that, but had been able to build full and meaningful lives.

    It was seeing through meeting these other people in recovery that gave me hope that the same could be possible for me. Before this point I never thought I could live without substances in my life. Now I'm over 12 years clean and my main day job is training, supporting and supervising the peer workforce, helping it to grow and contributing to something that I am so passionate about as well.

    I think the core message of somebody in distress being able to seek guidance and support from somebody who has experienced the same kind of distress but has found a way through it is so incredibly invaluable which is a perspective it seems we all share. And it is fantastic that the power of this can be experienced online and anonymously as well as face to face. It's so nice to see the value this has and an incredible privelege to be a part of it.

    Thank you very much for sharing this topic @Peace Dove, it is a really nice thing to reflect on :)
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    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 227
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Let's Talk!: The benefits of peer support in online communities

    Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:22 pm

    I'm extremely grateful that I get to share my experiences on here to help others. I used to hear my peers telling me early recovery days that sharing helped them just as much as it helped me and if I'm completely honest..........I just thought they were paying me lipservice. I can honestly say now that I get what they were saying. Sharing with everyone on here helps my recovery more than anything. I get reminded of what it was like early days but I also hear what is working for other people and get to put some of that into practice in my own life.

    I've discovered that for me it's important that I never forget that addiction is a part of my life...........a part of my life I have to remain aware of every day............getting on here twice a week helps me do just that.

    I went to a rehab that was owned and operated by people with lived experience of addiction. I connected in a way I'd never connected before and things started to make sense for the first time. The professionals have played a massive part in my recovery as well.........but the Peer aspect is what really helped me make sense of the changes I needed to implement. They helped me make sense of the 12 step fellowships too.

    Loved your share @CRAZYGRANNY ......thanks for jumping on board

    These forums are all about peers helping each other..............because this isn't a journey to be made alone
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