The EPIC Blog interviewed Sarah, a peer recovery mentor, on her experiences.
“I was addicted to drugs for about 14 years. When I heard about the opportunity [becoming a peer recovery mentor] to help others, I immediately jumped at it. I always wanted […] to help others and to let them know that there’s another way.”
How would describe the job of a peer recovery mentor to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
“I’m a support system for them [the parent]. I also help link them to the necessary resources they may need. I help them get around to various places, like with transportation, if they just need it. I’m always there – like I’m just a phone call away […] – if they relapse or if they are just really going through a crisis. They know that they can count on me to help them through whatever they are going through.”
How did you become a peer recovery mentor?
“My brother works at Integrated [Services for Behavioral Health], and his wife and I heard about it [the job] through him. So I just [put] in my resume and came into the interview.
How many people are you currently working with?
“There are three couples, and let’s just say, two individuals, because some of them aren’t consistent.”
How often do you see them?
“Weekly. Some of them I don’t have to see weekly, but I do just because they may need me […]. A couple of them are actually pretty close to their case being closed. So, I’m now starting to slowly pull away from them. So it’s not happening all at once.”
What has been the most rewarding part of being a peer mentor?
“Just seeing them […] know that there’s hope. I know when I was in their position, I didn’t think I could get my kids back. […] When they get their kids back, and when they realize they can get through this, be sober, and live [happily], it really touches me. I’m really so happy for them.”
What would you say has been the most challenging part of being a mentor?
“I’d say the most challenging part would be [working] with people who are not compliant. […] I often think to myself, Sarah, you were this person once – like you didn’t show up. I know where they’re at in their life, and I know it’s hard and that they may not be ready. But I can see it in them. It can get aggravating […] knowing that they can do better.”
Has there ever been a situation that’s been surprising to you as a peer mentor?
“I kind of like expect anything in this field, because I know some of the stuff I did was pretty crazy. So, there are very few things that will shock me.”
Has being a mentor strengthened your recovery?
“I think so. I can learn from them […]. It really does help me right now and in – I think – in the future too.”
What advice would you give to people who would like to be a peer mentor?
“My advice is they can do it. Just keep one foot in front of the other. If you feel the need to help people, and if it won’t jeopardize your sobriety […] or your lifestyle, then I say go for it. If that’s something they want to do.”
Is there something you wish you knew when you started as a peer mentor?
“Well, not really. […] But just like being in it, it hits home sometimes. It can be very upsetting. It can be very joyful. It’s just an emotional rollercoaster sometimes. So you really [have] to be careful and be strong in where you’re at. Not let it affect you negatively.”
“[…] If I had this [a peer mentor] whenever I was […] using, […] I think it would have helped me because I didn’t have a support system. I think it would have made the world of a difference. I think I would have been in sobriety a lot sooner […]. I just really think it’s great work, what everybody’s doing.”