The approach to treating substance use disorder (SUD) has been changing to be more recovery-oriented. There is a shift from treatment and control of symptoms to treatment focused on approaches that empower the client to maintain long-term recovery. Peer recovery supporters (PRS), trained individuals with their own recovery experience, are thought to provide significant advocacy and support for individuals struggling with addiction. PRS support and advocate for their clients as they navigate the successes and setbacks of the recovery process.
Some of the advantages of using PRS are that clients paired with PRS:
- Formed better relationships with their treatment providers and greater utilization of social supports
- Stayed in treatment longer and reported higher satisfaction with treatment
- Had reduced substance use and were less likely to relapse
Peer Recovery Supporters, in turn, express that having the opportunity to share their lived experience with addiction and recovery with others helps them to:
- gain better insight into their own symptoms
- increase social engagement and
- improve their sense of life satisfaction
The use of PRS as a component of a recovery-oriented treatment model is showing promise for promoting long-term recovery. It is expected that the use of PRS in SUD recovery will continue to grow, and agencies may need to make additional adjustments to support PRS. Cultivating agency culture to embrace and promote the inclusion of peers in SUD treatment is vital to having a successful PRS program. Further, agencies should consider the expansion of peer occupational growth opportunities as well as professional development efforts that allow PRS to qualify for advanced positions. Considering the PRS as a valued professional member of the SUD treatment team will help maximize their ability to help clients engage in treatment and work toward long-term sobriety.