Peer Support Is Effective for Achieving Recovery from Substance Use

September Is National Recovery Month

Peer groups are “vastly underrated and [are often] unrecognized by the general public,” stated addiction medicine specialist and media personality Dr. Drew Pinsky during a recent interview with Warriors Heart Co-Founder and Retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer Thomas Spooner in an episode of The Dr. Drew Podcast. Spooner described his personal struggles with substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma that he experienced while serving in the military. He also said that the recovery programs that his organization provides are framed as a “training program” that allows the clients to “get back into the fight, whether that is in living or on the job.” National Recovery Month presents an important opportunity to inform communities about recovery services and focuses on the ways that recovery services are provided. This allows for innovative approaches to be taken to ensure that all people can access these services so they can live healthier lives.

The New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services defines certified peer recovery specialists as individuals who are successfully living in recovery with mental illness and/or substance use disorders who provide support to others based on their individual experiences. They provide non-clinical, strength-based assistance to support long-term recovery and to reduce the likelihood of a return to substance use. By sharing life experiences, peer support specialists can offer insight into individuals’ treatment, in addition to providing mentorship, coaching and advocacy. Peer recovery specialists can also reach out to individuals’ family members, friends and treatment teams on their behalf, as well as provide linkages to specialty services if needed. Peer services that are covered by NJ FamilyCare require that each peer recovery specialist be supervised by a licensed, competent behavioral health professional.

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