Building Community and Connection in an Age of IsolationReading Time: 3 minutes
Social isolation is the primary factor increasing anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among young adults during the pandemic. It’s a feeling that’s all too familiar for young adults who struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues. They often feel disconnected and alone, as if no one truly understands what they’re going through.
These feelings can serve as a damaging catalyst for even further withdrawal from loved ones, at a time when support and meaningful connection are needed more than ever. Therefore, building community is a critical component of the treatment experience at Newport Institute.
The Role of Community Within the Treatment Experience
While each client’s treatment plan at Newport is tailored to their specific strengths, interests, and needs, everyone who accesses our services has multiple opportunities to practice building community to support their recovery. They benefit from targeted interventions that foster personal and peer accountability, along with a strong sense of belonging, including:
- Family-style meals with peers and staff
- Responsibilities related to caring for a shared space
- Adventure Therapy, which builds cooperation and collaboration
- Group therapy
- Fun community-building activities.
Studies on group therapeutic interventions (i.e., group therapy) show the benefits of this approach. But group activities like completing household chores have less obvious but significant benefits. For example, in each residential and outpatient location, clients are held to certain standards in terms of cleanliness, morale, mutual respect, and transparent communication. If these standards are not met, the clinical team and care coordinators will intervene to assist clients in collaboratively processing the underlying issues that catalyze problems within the community. By addressing these relational challenges, clients learn to resolve conflict peacefully. Hence, they can practice the healthy communication and coping strategies they’re learning in treatment.
Positive Relationships as a Protective Factor
Healing doesn’t end when treatment is over. In fact, much of the real work starts once a young adult heads back out into the world. In addition to the tools and self-knowledge they gain from their time in treatment, they also take away a strong sense of community to support sustained recovery. When clients do relapse, a supportive network helps them to recover more quickly.
Healing Family Ties
In addition to peer-focused activities, therapeutic experiences with family and loved ones are an important part of the treatment process. Family therapy sessions follow the five-task framework of Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT), designed to repair ruptures in the parent-child relationship. During our family program, clients and families come together for multi-family process groups. Here they meet other families with similar experiences, and naturally form bonds with one another.
These interventions help heal fractures within the family unit and strengthen connections, while building community for both young adults and parents. Moreover, family members learn how best to support their loved one after they leave treatment, whether they are returning to the family home, entering a sober-living home, or going back to college or independent living.
The Importance of Community in Recovery: Aftercare and Alumni Services
As our clients continue to grow, they create authentic and caring connections with others who are on a similar path, who share their experiences, goals, and sense of hope. Our young adult alumni program is designed to nurture these relationships. Our alumni team ensures that even after discharge, young adults have a mental health and addiction recovery community to lean on and know that they are not alone.
Our alumni network helps clients maintain the bonds they created in treatment. They remind us of the value of authentic connections, and of tending to and honoring one’s highest self.
Newport’s National Director of Experience
Remote and in-person events, as well as online groups and networks, give alumni safe spaces to connect in healthy environments that foster shared objectives. These forums provide an opportunity to recalibrate their narratives and recommit to their goals for recovery.
From the moment a client first enters treatment, we begin identifying the strengths and challenges that will affect their life once they leave Newport Institute. Our caring and compassionate staff partner with clients and families throughout the treatment experience. Thus, young adults strengthen their communication skills, heal their relationships, and build a caring community that will uplift and encourage them, long after their time with us comes to a close.