Ask just about anyone who has been through treatment for a substance abuse problem in their lifetime and they will likely affirm that they received as much help from others in recovery as they did from professionals in the field like counselors and therapists. Their ability to relate to the situation and offer real-world advice and support can go a long way when people are in need of guidance.
Sometimes these overlap, when people in recovery go on to maintain their sobriety and earn official credentials through education and practical experience. In those cases the people continue to draw on their experiences to help others.
A growing trend in the field now is the idea of a recovery coach. These are people who do not diagnose or treat anything, but offer compassionate support for people in need during their recovery process. A recent news story shed light on one of the many uses of recovery coaches, which happens to be in hospital emergency rooms, and how more states are footing the bill.
In addition to Rhode Island taking the lead by putting peer support into each hospital, it is reported that Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York are among other states working to implement similar strategies. This idea is also being promoted by the National Governor’s Association.
Recovery coaches are by no means a replacement for treatment. In fact they can be used to help people find appropriate treatment resources and continue to support them after completing a program. Research into the effectiveness of using peer support programs is currently being conducted, and many advocates are eager to be able to show the effectiveness of implementing these services as part of the larger continuum of care.