The Role of Peer Support Specialists in Addiction Recovery

Peer support is an important part of the recovery process, and peer support specialists play a vital role in helping people get and stay sober.

What is peer support?

Merriam-Webster defines a peer as “one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status.” When you were growing up, your peers were your classmates or the people on your sports teams. As an adult, your peers could be your coworkers or neighbors.


When it comes to addiction recovery, a peer is someone who has been through the same recovery program that you’re going through or who has received a mental health diagnosis similar to yours.


Peer support occurs when a peer supports you in your recovery journey. Since they have similar experiences, these people can empathize with your struggles and help you navigate through difficulties.

Why is peer support important?

Peer support provides an important sense of community for people in recovery. It can be helpful to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through and can offer advice and encouragement. Peer support specialists can help keep people accountable and motivated to stay sober.

What is a peer support specialist?

A peer support specialist (or peer recovery specialist) is someone who is in recovery from substance use disorder and wants to help others with their recovery journeys.


Unlike other mental health professionals, peer support specialists don’t have to have a counseling degree. Instead, they complete a certification program that trains them in how to provide peer support. These certification programs and requirements differ from state to state. In Kentucky, you must complete 30 hours of training and pass both a written and oral test to qualify as a support specialist.


While counselors and peer support specialists both help people in their recovery journeys, their roles are not quite the same. Addiction counselors are clinical practitioners who treat people through evidence-based practices. Peer support specialists, on the other hand, don’t provide counseling services. Rather, they play a supportive role in the addiction treatment process.

What does a peer support specialist do?

So, you may be wondering, “If a peer support specialist is different than a licensed addiction counselor, what exactly do they do?”

They can help you find a recovery program

Peer support specialists can help connect you with resources, like support groups or peer-led programs. They may also provide information about different types of treatment, like inpatient and outpatient care.

They can offer peer-to-peer support

At Isaiah House, our peer support specialists teach classes sharing their personal experience, strength and hope. They work with the clients on a personal level to support them in their treatment experience. After treatment, peer support specialists stay in contact with our clients by talking on the phone, meeting in person, or even texting. Beginning while in treatment, a meaningful relationship is built that helps people achieve recovery.

They serve as a role model

Since they’re in recovery themselves, peer support specialists can show you that it is possible to live a sober life. Seeing someone who has gone through the same thing you’re going through and come out the other side can be incredibly powerful.

They can help you set goals

As you build a relationship with a peer support specialist, they’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will help them to assist you in setting clear goals for your recovery journey. Setting and achieving goals helps recovering addicts build self-esteem and self-confidence.


What are the benefits of peer support?

There are many benefits to peer support, both for the person in recovery and for the peer support specialist. For the person in recovery, peer support can provide a sense of community, accountability, and motivation. For the peer support specialist, it can be a rewarding way to help others and make a difference in their lives.

Support for addiction recovery at Isaiah House

At Isaiah House, we have a team full of different specialists that are here to help you navigate your recovery journey. This team includes not only state certified peer support specialists, but also psychologists, professional medical staff, psychiatrists, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselors, and more.


We believe in treating the whole person by addressing the spiritual, physical, mental, financial, legal, and educational aspects of our clients’ lives. Our experienced staff helps us to do this with excellence.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, know that recovery is possible. We are here to walk with you through every part of your recovery journey. Contact us today and take the first step towards recovery!


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