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What is Peer Recovery Support?

The Short Version

Peer Recovery Support Specialists are individuals who have lived experience with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders who have undergone specialized training.

Differences Between Peer Recovery Support Specialists and Counselors

There differences between peer recovery support specialists and counselors includes:

  • Disclosure. Peer recovery support specialists have a higher level of disclosure in their own personal experience with mental health disorders and substance abuse recovery. Peer recovery support specialists are role models of recovery.

    Counselors offer limited disclosure about their own experiences. Typically, counselors only disclose their own mental health disorders and/or substance abuse recovery if it will benefit the client in the course of counseling.

  • Future focus versus past focus. Peer recovery support specialists focus on the future. Whereas, counselors typically focus on the relationship between the past and present, including trauma such as abuse. 

  • Evidenced-based treatment. Counselors offer therapy modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy. There are also assessments to better understand the severity of the addiction and/or mental health disorder. Counselors collaborate with their clients to create a formal treatment plan.

Similarities Between Peer Recovery Support Specialists and Counselors

There similarities between peer recovery support specialists and counselors includes:

  • Training. Both peer recovery support specialists and counselors undergo training to work effectively with those with mental health disorders and/or addiction.

  • Helping Clients. Both peer recovery support specialists and counselors want to help clients. 

Peer Recovery Support Resources in Colorado

  • EmbarkPCA. EmbarkPCA offers peer recovery support, transitional recovery housing, two community centers (Denver and Colorado Springs), and a virtual family support group. Visit the Official EmbarkPCA page to learn more.
  • Hornbuckle Foundation. Hornbuckle Foundation offers outpatient treatment, recovery coaching, community center and sober living scholarship. There are weekly support groups including Family Loss Support Group, Youth Music and Arts and Any F’n A 12 Step Meeting. Visit the Official Hornbuckle Foundation page to learn more.

  • Young People In Recovery.  Young People in Recovery focuses on peer-to-peer services. There are chapters within the State of Colorado. They embrace all pathways to recovery. Most of their members are under the age of 30, but there is no age limit. Visit the Official Young People in Recovery page to learn more, find a chapter and pro-social events near you.

How To Become A Peer Recovery Support Specialist

The National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) has a National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS) credential. The credential requires a combination of training, experience and examination.

Some of the criteria includes:

  • High school diploma, GED, or higher.
  • Minimum of 2 years of recovery from lived experience in substance use and/or co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Minimum of 200 hours of direct practice in a peer recovery support environment.
  • Minimum of 60 contact and training hours of recovery-focused education and training.
  • Signed statement of acknowledgement and adherence to the Code of Ethics.
  • Two references, once which must be professional.
  • Passing score on the National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist examination.

Visit the National Certified Peer Support Specialist page on the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors page to learn more about the certification, fees, and application.