Nothing is more special to me than walking back into Priory and meeting the new patients
We hear from a former patient from Priory Hospital North London’s Addiction Treatment Programme, who now works with current patients as a peer supporter.
Peer supporters are people who have themselves completed a 28-day programme and have stayed sober for at least one year after discharge. They provide strength, guidance and support to current patients, who often describe the supporters as invaluable to their treatment and a model of how life can be enjoyed in recovery.
Our peer supporters often tell us that this role is paramount in their continued recovery: “My life is pretty full today but nothing is more special to me than walking back into Priory (my spiritual home, as I call it) and meeting the new patients”.
My role as a peer supporter is, without doubt, the most important element of my ongoing recovery. When I arrived at Priory just over 11 years ago, I was totally lost and confused with life and with myself. I was at the lowest point of my life. I had absolutely no knowledge of what a rehabilitation centre really did and no knowledge about my journey ahead. All I knew was the destruction that my use of substances, alcohol and gambling had on my life. My month at Priory basically saved my life and if I’m really honest, the people that had the biggest impact on my early recovery were the peer supporters (ex-patients) that came in and told their story and answered any questions my fellow patients and I had. Of course the therapists were also pivotal in my understanding of recovery and guiding me during my month.
I remember one or two ex-patients in particular, clearly saying certain little things that helped me more than they will ever know. Little snippets of advice, suggestions and most importantly, hope that if I did what was suggested, I too, might be able to sort my life out! Whilst I was an inpatient, I made myself a promise that if I managed to get one year clean I would join the peer support group and come back once a month and share my story and my journey with the new patients and hopefully help them as the peer supporters had helped me. That’s exactly what I did and continue to do to this day!
I absolutely love doing my monthly peer support back at Priory. In fact, it is, without a doubt, my most important and enjoyable night of every month. That might sound hard to believe but it is 100% my personal truth. My life is pretty full today but nothing is more special to me than walking back into Priory (my spiritual home, as I call it) and meeting the new patients. I wear my peer support badge with immense pride, and there truly is, in my personal experience, nothing more rewarding than offering some hope, genuine hope, that the new patients can do this too. I’ve cried tears of joy and tears of sadness in the meetings over the years. My truth and my experience, is, I hope, of value to others. Not every day in recovery is easy, far from it at times, but I soldier on, inspired by those that have come before me in the hope that, I too, can inspire others. It’s been the most amazing thing to see some patients go from patient to peer supporter and in some cases go from patient to therapist!
The journey continues.