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What Are Peer Specialists?

Updated: Jan 31

Peer specialist assists client

Starting or maintaining the journey of recovery from problematic alcohol or drug use is a commendable decision, and having the right support can make all the difference.


Think about having a friend who knows exactly what it's like and has been through the same struggles – that's what a Peer Support Specialist is like.


Peer Specialists are individuals with personal experience overcoming problematic substance use, equipped with specialized training to assist those on their recovery journey. They come from diverse backgrounds and education levels. These specialists may hold certifications from state or national organizations.


The Benefits of Peer Specialist Services For Recovery


Their role is multi-faceted; they serve as living examples that recovery is achievable, providing hope to those seeking a way out of substance use challenges. Having walked a similar path, they offer understanding and empathy, making individuals feel seen and heard. Moreover, Peer Specialists empower individuals by aiding in the development of personalized recovery plans and connecting them to valuable resources.


In addition to providing emotional support, a peer specialist plays a pivotal role in assisting you in accessing various resources to enhance your overall well-being, whether it's securing employment, refining job search skills, finding stable housing, obtaining healthcare, or pursuing educational opportunities.


It's not uncommon for individuals to collaborate with a peer specialist, a sponsor, and a clinical counselor throughout their recovery journey, creating a comprehensive support network with their unique needs and goals in mind.


How Can Peer Specialists Help Me?

Your journey to recovery is uniquely yours, and a peer specialist is there to listen without judgment, helping you construct a personalized recovery plan that aligns with your aspirations, interests, and capabilities.


Peer Specialists help clients by:

  • Mentoring and building relationships

  • Helping clients build skills

  • Sharing resources

  • Helping clients set goals

  • Advocating for people in recovery

  • Helping providers, like nurses and doctors, support patients with mental health needs


A peer specialist is not just a listener; they genuinely care about you as an individual. Offering encouragement and aiding in the development of coping mechanisms for emotions like boredom or loneliness, they coach you on building self-confidence and regularly check in on your progress throughout your recovery journey.


Their support extends beyond emotional care. They share knowledge about recovery and essential life skills. Whether providing insights into the physical and mental effects of problematic substance use, conducting group classes on topics like budgeting and stress reduction, or connecting you with vital resources like food or clothing banks, a peer specialist plays a large role in supporting your overall well-being.

Read the Peer Support Guide

Recovery is a journey that demands effort and patience, acknowledging that setbacks might occur along the way. With a peer specialist by your side, offering hope, understanding, practical assistance, companionship, and opportunities for social connections, the path to recovery becomes a shared endeavor where perseverance is key.


Remember, there's no wrong way to seek peer support services—just take that first step, commence your journey, and don't lose sight of the progress ahead.


Learn everything you need to know about Peer Support Specialists in the SAMHSA recovery guide. including tips on working with one during your recovery as well as moving on from short-term services.

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