The alumni club: interpersonal contact and the exchange of recovery oriented helping in a sample of former residents of a therapeutic community for women

Jessica V. Linley (Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Keith L. Warren (College of Social Work, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)



Aftercare is an important predictor of outcomes following treatment for substance abuse. Despite this, there is evidence that the great majority of substance abusing clients choose not to participate in aftercare. Aftercare programs that are tied to specific residential treatment facilities, sometimes known as alumni groups or alumni clubs, might increase participation by offering former residents the opportunity to maintain treatment oriented social networks. Therapeutic communities (TCs), which emphasize mutual aid between residents, are ideal candidates for such programs. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


In total, 100 randomly chosen former TC residents were randomly surveyed regarding their contact with fellow alumni and their exchange of recovery oriented helping behaviors. A thirty day timeline follow-back methodology was used.


Contact was primarily through electronic means, particularly phone calls, texts and the alumni club Facebook page. Participants who reported more electronic contact also reported more days in which they offered and received recovery oriented help. Participants who were African American or had spent more time in TC treatment offered and received recovery oriented help on more days.

Research limitations/implications

While this is an exploratory study limited to one TC, this alumni club allows for the maintenance of a mutual aid network after termination. That network primarily consists of electronic forms of contact. A longer time spent in TC treatment may allow for the internalization of the practice of mutual aid. Further research on alumni clubs is warranted.


This is the first survey of TC alumni club members.



The authors would like to acknowledge funding from the Coca Cola Critical Difference for Women Grant and the Merriss Cornell Research Scholarship.


Linley, J.V. and Warren, K.L. (2019), "The alumni club: interpersonal contact and the exchange of recovery oriented helping in a sample of former residents of a therapeutic community for women", Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 42-50.



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