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Peer Support Specialists Foster Recovery through Lived Experiences

February 20, 2020

Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life. These experiences are common, recurrent and often serious, but they are treatable and people can recover.

At Colorado Community Health Alliance (CCHA), peer support specialists play an important role in supporting recovery from behavioral health conditions. A peer support specialist is someone who, through the success of their own recovery journey, empowers others to identify and achieve meaningful and lasting goals. Their lived experience can include behavioral health, substance use and family advocacy.

The role of a peer support specialist compliments, but does not duplicate or replace, the role of a therapist, case manager or other members of a person’s treatment team. Research shows that peer support services have a transformative effect on both individuals and systems. Peer support has been shown to:

  • Improve quality of life
  • Improve engagement and satisfaction with services and supports
  • Improve whole health, including chronic conditions like diabetes
  • Decrease hospitalizations and inpatient days
  • Reduce the overall cost of services

Peer support specialists empower people to: engage in their own treatment, advocate for their whole-health goals, develop natural supports, and navigate complex systems in order to reach meaningful recovery. They are an essential component of recovery-focused systems and are key across settings and stages of recovery.