In 2022, we no longer have to guess at what works to help people recover – now science informs the treatment process. And the benefit of talking to a supportive friend with lived experience in recovery is science. In fact, peer support is one of the most successful evidence-based practices in the addiction treatment field.
Peer support means a range of activities and interactions between people who share the similar experiences around being diagnosed with substance use and/or mental health conditions. This “peerness” promotes social connection and inspires hope.
Peer support offers a level of acceptance, understanding, and validation that isn’t found in many other professional relationships. Peers share their own lived experience in recovery, together with practical guidance,. Peer support workers – often called mentors — help people new to recovery to develop their own goals, create strategies for self-‐empowerment, and take concrete steps towards building fulfilling, self-‐determined lives for themselves.
Why does it work? The role of a peer support worker complements the roles of treatment therapists, case managers, and other members of a professional treatment team – it does not replace them. Peer support workers bring their own personal knowledge of what it is like to live and thrive with behavioral health disorders. They support a new patient’s progress towards recovery and self-determination by sharing vital experiences, information, and real-life examples of the power of recovery. This shared experience models recovery for a new patient, offering hope.
Emerging scientific research shows that having peer support for recovery:
- Increases our self-confidence
- Promotes a sense of control and the ability to bring about changes in our lives
- Raises our level of empowerment
- Increases our feeling that treatment is responsive and inclusive of needs
- Improves our sense of hope and inspiration
- Increases our own empathy and acceptance (camaraderie)
- Improves engagement in self-care and wellness
- Increases social support and social functioning
And it all that’s not enough, having a peer support system also decreases psychotic symptoms, reduces hospital admission rates, and reduces substance use and depression.
If you need peer support for recovery, call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2676.