Substance Use

What Is a Peer Recovery Specialist?

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Peer Recovery Specialists and How They Help

A peer recovery specialist (PRS) is an individual who has successfully overcome their own addiction challenges, now lives a life of sobriety, and dedicates their time to helping others navigate the sobriety journey. Peer recovery specialists, like peer recovery coaches, have firsthand knowledge and lived experience of the physical and mental health challenges that individuals in recovery face.

What sets peer recovery specialists apart from peer recovery coaches is that, on top of successfully navigating substance use treatment and a sober lifestyle, a peer recovery specialist completed the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) support services program, recognized by an accredited certification board, such as the National Certified Peer Specialist (NCPS) Credential.

Peer recovery specialists use the foundation of this training coupled with their lived experiences to support, guide, and empathize with individuals currently battling substance use disorder (SUD) and other substance abuse conditions.

Are you or someone you know currently facing the challenges of addiction? You don’t have to do it alone—Zinnia Health can help. Reach out to our caring treatment professionals at (855) 430-9439 today.

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What Does a Peer Recovery Specialist Do?

For people facing the challenges of an addicted lifestyle, having the right support and empowerment can make all the difference. This is where the role of peer recovery specialists is most important: these certified specialists offer a unique and empathetic form of assistance that complements evidence-based, traditional addiction treatment methods.

Peer recovery specialists have a wide range of responsibilities aimed at helping individuals on their journey to sobriety. These specialists are:

  • Mentors
  • Advocates
  • Sources of inspiration

They often offer unique perspectives that professional addiction treatment counselors may not possess. Peer recovery specialists provide advocacy for the needs of their peers and create a safe space, free of judgment, stigma, and ridicule, so individuals can share their own unique struggles and ambitions, which builds a connection and fosters deeper understanding.

During the various stages of treatment, peer recovery specialists engage in one-on-one conversations and group sessions, and some even offer educational workshops.

They provide:

  • Practical advise from firsthand experience
  • Emotional support
  • Coping strategies
  • Hope by sharing their recovery stories
  • Demonstration that lasting change is possible

What Are the Requirements to Become a Peer Recovery Specialist?

To become a peer recovery specialist, individuals must meet certain criteria and attend a certified professional training program. While exact qualifications vary based on city, state, and individual treatment programs and rehab centers, one specific prerequisite isn’t negotiable: personally battling and overcoming addiction.

Prospective peer recovery specialists complete a training program that equips them with the evidence-based skills most effective for supporting an addict’s recovery journey.

To become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist:

  1. Apply with an accredited training program.
    • For these programs, a college education is encouraged but isn’t required. However, the healthcare industry requires peer recovery specialists to at least hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  2. Attend classes and training sessions.
  3. Earn the number of hours required.
  4. Apply for certification when you graduate.
  5. Obtain continuing education credits as necessary.

Someone who wants to become a peer recovery specialist also:

  • Must be a recovered addict living in sobriety.
  • Needs an empathetic and compassionate demeanor.
  • Needs exceptional listening skills.
  • Should possess a deep desire to lead substance abusers to a life of sobriety.

These traits help a peer recovery specialist guide, encourage, and connect with addicts on a much deeper level.

If you or one of your family members is struggling with addiction, Zinnia Health can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn about uniquely tailored treatment options at our rehab centers across the nation.

Peer Recovery Coach vs. Peer Recovery Specialist vs. Addiction Treatment Counselor: What Are the Differences?

The role of a peer recovery coach, peer recovery specialist, and addiction treatment counselor are all important during treatment. Peer recovery coaches and peer recovery specialists both share firsthand, lived experiences through substance use and addiction.

An addiction treatment counselor may or may not have this same experience, but they’ve earned at least a bachelor’s degree in counseling specific to addicts. While each professional plays a crucial role in the recovery process, each has their own distinct focuses and skillsets.

Peer Recovery Coach

A peer recovery coach provides practical assistance in setting and achieving goals related to sobriety. They collaborate with individuals to help them develop the life skills and personalized strategies needed in recovery—most notably, relapse prevention.

A peer recovery coach draws from the firsthand experience of their own personal recovery, but these individuals are not certified to offer anything more than support.

Peer Recovery Specialist

A peer recovery specialist also draws on their firsthand experiences to offer relatable support and guidance for people in recovery. They may have started as a peer recovery coach at a local rehab center but completed an accredited training program, certifying them of evidence-based treatment approaches.

Addiction Treatment Counselor

An addiction treatment counselor may or may not have firsthand addiction experiences to offer a more relatable connection with those in their care. Those who relate to addiction on a more personal level may have become a coach and then taken certification courses to become a specialist. From there, they may have completed a degree in addiction counseling.

These professionals are trained and certified to address addiction’s psychological and emotional aspects, such as ongoing mental illness or past mental health conditions, typically by earning a degree in addiction counseling from a four-year institution. Some addiction counselors also earn continuing education credits to stay updated as new research sheds light on novel addiction treatment methods and approaches.

What Do Peer Recovery Specialists Do in Different Treatment Settings?

Substance abuse, addiction, and recovery is a complicated journey. Every person is unique, as is their situation. The ability to tailor a treatment program to various personalities, needs, and circumstances requires multiple treatment options. A peer recovery specialist complements formal treatments within each type of treatment setting and assists peers in adhering to their recovery plans:

Inpatient intensive: Inpatient intensive treatment programs provide round-the-clock care to recovering addicts in a controlled environment. Peer recovery specialists within this setting offer a relatable perspective for individuals actively detoxing and undergoing the initial stages of recovery before transitioning into inpatient rehab. These specialists create a bridge of understanding, helping addicts learn what to expect from and cope with withdrawal symptoms, how to get through inevitable emotional challenges and begin building the foundation for long-term sobriety.

Inpatient residential: Residential treatment settings are structured environments where individuals can put their intentions solely on recovery. Peer recovery specialists in an inpatient residential treatment program offer companionship and support that reinforces the therapeutic interventions used by addiction treatment professionals. They help recovering addicts adapt to the facility’s routines, address any concerns that might arise, and foster camaraderie among peers in the program.

Sober living home: After inpatient or residential treatment, successful program graduates sometimes transition into sober living homes to help bridge the gap between the treatment environment and an abrupt return to everyday life. Peer recovery specialists in sober living help nurture effective communication, practical life skills, and coping strategies to help avoid relapse. Peer recovery specialists are role models for the home’s residents, demonstrating their sobriety in real-time, illustrating the real-life possibilities of sustained sobriety.

Outpatient & intensive outpatient treatment:Outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment programs may follow a sober living arrangement or may be prescribed when a person exits inpatient residential treatment. Outpatient intensive allows individuals to receive treatment and accountability while attending to their daily responsibilities.

Peer recovery specialists in an outpatient setting provide an essential connection in the home environment outside formal treatment sessions. They offer a supportive presence and non-judgmental listening ear to help individuals process their current level of recovery.

This ongoing support helps recovering addicts transition into their daily lives seamlessly. They can apply the insights gained and strategies learned while in therapy to real-world experiences.

Recover Among Peers and Heal for Good with Zinnia Health

Peer recovery specialists are an invaluable asset on the recovery journey. Theirs is an instrumental role that addresses the unique challenges individuals face at various stages of treatment.

These specialists use what they’ve learned about addiction firsthand and in a certified training program and apply their knowledge with guidance from substance abuse treatment professionals. A peer recovery specialist significantly contributes to the creation of a solid foundation for lasting change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you’re not in this alone—Zinnia Health can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn about our tailored treatment options. Our peer recovery specialists offer the transformative power of relatable support—they were once where you are now and look forward to guiding and supporting you through the inspiration of their recovery and continued sobriety.

Call us
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(855) 430-9439
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