The multitudinous studies of peer influence all fall into a similar camp around the idea that people strive to be similar to those with which they surround themselves. People seek out others that they admire to befriend and tend to adopt each other’s values. This can have both positive and negative influence based upon the peers that have been identified for a friend group.
Alternative peer groups are built around these findings in that they provide a group of peers that value sobriety and have found ways to maintain it in their own lives. The culture of an APG needs to be carefully cultivated to promote social connections, reaching out to others, and acceptance. It is common for a staff member to task their Steering Committee with identifying newcomers or struggling members and assign one or more members with strengths to reach out and build a relationship with those identified. Through the diligence and strategic effort of staff, an alternative peer group promotes the sharing of principles, beliefs, and goals through peer influence in a positive direction that benefits all members.
In an Alternative Peer Group Program the family component is critical. It is through the family that the staff can enact interventive strategies or discourage sabotage. It is through the family program that the staff can take advantage of extra information and structure healing activities. It is through the family program that the staff can organize social activities that develop a plethora of family and individual opportunities for growth and catchup on interpersonal skills.
The only criteria for admittance into the APG level of care is client and family display a need to eradicate substance use or substance use related issues from their lives. Oftentimes, family members will begin participating in this level of care while a client is still in a residential setting where they may not be able to participate themselves until they step down. This level of care operates concurrently with all other levels of care and continues on after other levels of care are completed.
The length of stay for the APG level of care is 18 months to 4 years on average. However, if a client does not meet the requirements of the “Awakening Checklist” which outlines our Completion Criteria within 3 years, they remain in the APG until they do.
If you’d like to learn more about our Alternative Peer Group programs, give us a call at (877) 270-6753 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.