3 Ways to Fix Your Declining Alumni Engagement Rates
As your patients complete treatment and move on to the next phase of their recovery journey, they will continue to need your help. Support and encouragement has been clinically proven to be a significant factor in achieving long term sobriety. However, most treatment centers are not providing the right support at the right time. You have a limited opportunity to form a strong connection with your alumni and missing that opportunity will make it difficult to provide support postdischarge. In the first 6 weeks post treatment you should be celebrating success, connecting with community, and inspiring continued change.
Once your patients complete treatment and begin to build their new lives in recovery, they will be faced with challenges and temptations. During the first few weeks, every day they are able to remain clean and sober is reason for celebration. You need to be reaching out at least once a week to let those alumni know how proud you are of their success. A text message, email, or phone call can be surprisingly powerful. If you want to maintain a relationship with your alumni then you must act early and consistently.
Community is so important for those in recovery. Peer support has been shown to make a real difference, especially in the first year post treatment. Peers know what it’s like to be an addict and to struggle with the associated guilt and sadness. A strong community can share the powerful message of hope. Having an always-on online community puts hope within reach at all times. Onsite meetings are a good start, but they only help those who stay locally. Getting your alumni plugged into this community immediately after treatment is imperative. As patients are leaving treatment, they are much more likely to follow through with your advice and suggestions.
Another big component of community is celebration and inspiring change. An impactful community is made up of those who are early in their recovery journey and those who have been clean and sober for months and years. It’s very inspiring when alumni share that they have been sober for 6 months, 9 months, 3 years and more. It shows younger alumni that anything is possible and there is a path forward.
If you don’t have an impactful alumni engagement strategy then it will be very difficult to stay connected with your alumni. In fact, most treatment centers are connected with less than 10% of their alumni 1 year after discharge. The main reason is that treatment centers are waiting too long to connect and are not providing enough value once treatment ends. Make it a priority in the first few days after discharge to celebrate the small victories and along the way you’ll develop a strong alumni community. Doing so will help to improve outcomes and give you the opportunity to best serve your alumni and others.