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5 Awesome Recovery Toolbox Items

free toolbox clipart icons graphic 254059What supportive items are in your recovery toolbox?  As we grow in our recovery, we add specific tools (skills) to our boxes.  Below is a list of items geared to have supportive purposes to add to your toolbox.

5. Volunteering

Volunteering offers socialization, community, and skillset building, as well as a strong feeling of doing something good. “Giving back” is a term often heard. Many organizations, causes and events offer opportunities to volunteer. Volunteering can be customizable to suit a wide variety of needs. For those looking for employment, this is a great way to get your foot in the door. Places to find opportunities to volunteer include animal shelters, zoos, churches, local mental health/recovery boards, local consumer-operated services, public events, organizations, state/metro parks, schools, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and more. 

4. Google Platform

For the techies, Google Docs allows users to create documents and spreadsheets where you can log your moods, feelings, goals, notes, journals, and symptoms (similar to Microsoft Word and Excel). Save the documents to Google Drive (accessible by any Drive enabled device, download Drive online) and recall them during the appointment, or when needed. Google Calendar is also a great way to keep track of a variety of things:  appointment times, medication times, moods, feelings, hobbies, goal tracking, etc. You can also set whom you share this calendar with (if you choose to share it). Google + offers the ability to build a profile and network with individuals. You can even create or join Hangouts, where you can see the people you are talking to by the camera on their devices (similar to Skype, with the ability to add more than one person to a Hangout). The Google platform is accessible by any computer or Android or iOS device, making it very versatile. Best of all, it is free!

3. Recovery Apps for Your Smartphone and Tablet

Reachout - Social support app for people with health issues such as: cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as mental illness and substance abuse issues. Users can share and read stories and interact with each another.

PTSD Coach - By the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, this app tracks your PTSD symptoms over time and has tools for management.

Optimism -Self-tracking for mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Detect patterns in mood, triggers, and create a wellness plan to help manage your mental health.

SAM Self-Help for Anxiety Management - Record your anxiety levels and identify triggers. Over 20 self-help options to use for physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of anxiety. You can build a customized “toolbox” of the app’s features that work best for you. Use the social cloud feature to share your story with others.

Secret of Happiness — Has a strong focus on gratitude to relieve depression and anxiety. The app alerts you (at times you can set) to reflect and record the things in the last 24 hours that you are grateful for (evening), and your goal for the day ahead (morning).

Code Blue - Designed to provide teenagers struggling from depression or bullying with support when they need it. Users choose contacts and build their support group. The app alerts the support group that a user needs immediate help. Members of the support group reach out to the user. The app shares the user’s location with the support group and members can indicate that they are on their way to see the user in person.

Breathe2Relax (no website available) - For stress management, by walking users through breathing exercises to help to reduce stress, control anger, and manage anxiety.

2. Local Fellowship Groups

These are groups of like-minded individuals sharing similar interests. These groups can be of anything:  religious (faith-based) groups, 12-Step groups, special interest clubs (books, knitting/quilting, poetry/spoken word, photography, journaling, and social media on anything that might strike your fancy (including peer support). A great way to have conversations, share a common interests, and not feel alone.

1. Local Drop-in Recovery Center/ Consumer Operated Service (COS)

A great place were individuals in recovery with mental illness, addiction and/or trauma, can be safe, socialize, play games, watch movies, hop on a computer, sit in on a group, gain information/resources and access Peer Support. A solid solution to the hangout spot to work on what you need to. It could be one day a week, once a month, or every day!  Check with your local mental health/recovery boards for a location nearest you.

What do you use in your recovery toolbox? Please let us know in the comments below.

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We Are Too Different to Learn From Each Other

It’s not uncommon to be intimidated or even frightened at the thought of attending a support group. Opening up in a room full of strangers takes courage. The value of connecting with other people cannot be understated, and you might be surprised who you can learn from along the way. Sharing experiences and being a member of a community is a valuable recovery tool.


Trying to find reasons to avoid listening to people should be an Olympic sport at The PEER Center. We hear all the time from our associates that they are misunderstood, no one can relate to them, and there is no reason to attend “that support group” because they have “nothing in common” with the other participants.

Gabe and Juliet Are Very Different

My name is Gabe Howard and I am the Director of Development and Marketing at The PEER Center. I work for Juliet Dorris-Williams, the Executive Director. If you take a look at the picture accompanying this article, you’ll see that it doesn’t take much to come to the conclusion that we are very different.

We Are Too Different to Learn From Each OtherStarting with the obvious, we are different races and genders. I am a tall, redheaded, white man and Juliet is a short, African-American woman. I am younger than Juliet, as well. Even upon visual inspection we are incredibly different.

Frankly, those are the least of our differences. Juliet is very educated, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I tried to drop out of high school until my granny stepped in to stop me. Juliet is a parent; I am not. I am not at all religious and she is very spiritual – so much so that she attended seminary and is an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. While Juliet is very quiet and introverted, I am boisterous and very extroverted.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Juliet is not a fan of 90s alternative rock and I have never heard of many of the gospel singers on her playlist. So, what does a quiet, well-educated, spiritual, African-American woman have in common with a loud, informally educated, not-at-all spiritual, white man?


Juliet and Gabe Are Not so Different

Turns out, Juliet and Gabe are not so different. We are both realists. We both care very much about the people we serve. And, while I certainly overthink things more than she does, she hasn’t escaped the middle-of-the–night, grandiose, racing thoughts.

We don’t back down and we both fight our own inner turmoil. We both have had traumatic incidents in our pasts and both can be filled with self-doubt. We both strive to be moderate in a world filled with extremes.

Her life experience has given me a different perspective on my own, and that has been incredibly helpful in my own recovery. Had I decided I had nothing to learn from her, I would have missed out on a great many positive things. What we have in common is considerably more valuable than our differences.

Being “so different” gives us the opportunity to learn from one another. In our work life, I do the talking, she keeps me focused and accountable, and we both work toward the same goals in our own ways. Our differences didn’t prevent us from learning from and supporting one another. Indeed, they are what allow us to do so.


Visit our webpage at www.ThePEERCenter.org to see a list of our support and educational groups.
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