A peer recovery specialist, recovery coach, or mentor is an individual who has their own experience with addiction and is trained to help others through their recovery process. These specialists are normally employed by recovery centers, treatment centers, and hospitals and are usually available to patients as part of their treatment.
As the availability of addiction treatment expands, many are becoming curious about the role a peer recovery specialist plays during treatment and whether or not they truly make a difference. Taking a closer look at how they connect with those in recovery can hopefully shed some light on the importance of including peers in the recovery process.
A peer recovery specialist will typically be teamed up with an individual dealing with a similar type of addiction. In the beginning, the peer will meet with their client to set up a schedule for their regular meetings. Meetings can be either face to face, over the phone, or a combination of both. The key is to have consistent meetings and for the client to remain committed to working with their peer.
Some treatment facilities will place a 90-day limit on the number of meetings a client will have with their peer. Other recovery centers will let the length of peer coaching be determined by the client’s unique treatment plan. Either way, the specialist’s role continues to be important even after the client has completed treatment at a facility.
So what does a peer recovery specialist actually do? They not only guide their clients through the recovery process with regular meetings and checkups, but they also make sure that their recovery is progressing in the right direction.
A specialist will stay in touch with their client through every step and be there to help educate and support an individual. By providing insight from their own recovery process, a peer coach has a unique and valuable perspective that allows clients to feel supported and understood.
Becoming a peer recovery specialist requires that an individual has at least one year of recovery under their belt. Becoming a coach also means undergoing extensive training on the nature of addiction, co-occurring disorders, and staying up to date on current knowledge of addiction treatment.
Anyone who wishes to work as a peer recovery coach is required to undergo testing and to complete over 100 hours of training and education. Some of the topics included in education include addiction ethics and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Working as a peer recovery specialist is also a rewarding profession for individuals who are still going through the recovery process themselves. Not only do these peer specialists get to share their knowledge and experience with others in need, but they also find that their work provides motivation for their own recoveries.
Along with therapy, medication, participation in 12 step meetings, or group therapy, having a peer support specialist is a valuable tool during the recovery process. They will work with doctors, therapists, and facilities to ensure that a client is getting the best kind of treatment for their needs.
Those who use recovery coaches report that they feel strong enough to get through any challenge that may come their way. The occupation also provides opportunities for people who have battled addiction or alcoholism to start a lifelong career that is challenging and rewarding.