Peers Actively Lending Support© (PALS©)

“Peer support is a helping relationship between consumers/survivors that promotes respect, trust and warmth and empowers individuals to make changes and decisions to enhance their lives.” – www.health.gov.bc.ca

One of the great things about LifeRing is that it encourages me to live a “whole life.” Recovery is important, but so are all of the other aspects of my life. LifeRing has allowed me to reinvent myself, make new friends and get back to what I use to do. My passion was running and climbing. I found a PAL with those same interests and now we train together. – John (LifeRing member)

Peers Actively Lending Support© (PALS©)

Recovery support groups for people suffering from substance abuse and other addictions are often based on peer support, and LifeRing is no different. Whether you call them peer-supporters, mentors, sober friends, recovery coaches or accountability partners, having someone walk beside you on your recovery journey is essential and makes the road less lonely.

At LifeRing, we call them PALS – Peers Actively Lending Support.

If you’re currently in a treatment facility, you may already have incorporated LifeRing into your Personal Recovery Plan©. You may also want to include LifeRing and a PAL in your long-term aftercare plan for after you leave the facility. Perhaps you are living in the community and attend LifeRing, but have not connected with a PAL yet.

PALS has not only helped many people in recovery develop healthy relationships and foster long-lasting friendships, it has also helped create a recovery community within LifeRing where people participate in activities together outside of the group meetings.

What’s a PAL?

LifeRing’s PALS program relies on individuals who have experienced substance abuse, addiction and recovery to support others. PALS draw on their own experiences to promote wellness and recovery in people who are just beginning their sober life. Your PAL is there to listen, empathize, and share resources, skills and tools – not to give advice, guarantees or promises, but to lend support. Your PAL is someone with whom you can share sober interests, such as going for a walk or having coffee, someone who will take your phone call when times get tough.

What are the benefits of being a PAL?

• The feeling of giving something back
• The satisfaction of being useful in someone else’s recovery
• A deeper insight into life
• Solidifying and strengthening your own recovery
• Making a sober friend

What are the benefits of having a PAL?

• Minimizing feelings of loneliness and isolation
• Gaining resources, skills and tools for a successful recovery
• Support on good days and bad days
• Making a sober friend
• Being introduced to a sober community
• The feeling of belonging
• Positive encouragement and motivation
• Someone to call then times get tough

Anyone who has the desire to live a clean and sober life and lend their support to a peer with the same desire!
“Sharing what I’m going through with others who are going through the same thing helps my recovery.” LifeRing member

What should I look for in a PAL?

People who are stable in their lives and recovery and are able to be a role model for a healthy recovery could be a PAL to someone. You can find a PAL that matches your particular situation or interests. For example, if your family is important to you, try to find a PAL who is in a long-term, healthy relationship with a partner or speaks glowingly of their children. If you are focusing on building a career, ask those who are successful in their chosen fields.  If you are someone who has relapsed multiple times, then you may want to find someone who has shared your experience or, if not, has lived by a certain set of principles that you think will work for your situation as well.
Avoid committing to the first available PAL. Choose carefully. Get to know some people in LifeRing and go out for coffee with them. This is a good way to start your recovery journey and avoid procrastination, and will also give you support and time to select the right PAL.


Becoming a PAL

If you have the time and desire to help someone else in recovery, talk to the group convenor before the meeting about your interest in being a PAL to someone. The convenor can then tell the group to see if anyone is interested in gaining a friend in recovery.

Finding a PAL

During the meeting, the convenor will talk about PALS, mention that some are available to offer support and invite group members see him or her after the meeting to make the connection. LifeRing cards with the phone number and email address are available at each meeting to exchange contact information.

“They didn’t give up on me, and would talk to me when I needed someone who understood my struggles.” LifeRing member