If you have made the decision to seek alcohol or drug addiction treatment, you might be wondering what your life will look like after you enter recovery. While in your treatment program, you have access to services provided by mental health professionals as well as the support of your peers who are also working toward recovery. But what happens after? What tools will you have to stay sober and to take care of your mental health?
A peer recovery coach can be instrumental in your ability to maintain recovery after you complete a treatment program. Find the answers to your questions below on if you need a peer recovery coach and all of the ways that having the right support systems can guide you toward lifelong recovery.
What Is a Peer Recovery Coach?
Peer recovery coaches are people who have already gone through the challenging process of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction and can now provide guidance as you embark on your journey toward sobriety. This is an individual who will make sure you have the skills you need to combat addiction triggers and symptoms of any mental health conditions.
During your time in treatment programs for addiction and mental health, you will experience peer-to-peer recovery support. But even when you complete your time in either inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, you should continue to work with a peer recovery specialist to carry through with all the hard work you’ve already put in toward your new lifestyle.
There are many ways that peer recovery coaches can provide support to you. Some examples of a peer recovery coach’s duties are to:
- Act as a role model for sobriety and mental health recovery
- Educate mentees on chemical dependency and mental health disorders
- Offer support, encouragement, and tips to maintain mental wellness
The truth is that recovery can sometimes feel isolating—recovery may even feel impossible at times. This is why it is so important to have peer support throughout recovery and after. You will then know that you are not alone in this battle.
One of the biggest benefits of having a peer recovery coach is that you will have someone who truly understands the challenges that come with substance use disorders to lift you up in times of need. They represent all of the possibilities that come with recovery and will help you to realize, and achieve, your own recovery goals.
Will a Peer Recovery Coach Really Help Me Stay Sober?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), having a peer recovery coach will not only help you to stay sober but will also improve the quality of your recovery as a whole.
Studies show that having peer support—and, specifically, a certified peer recovery specialist—results in the following:
- More frequent use of the skills you learn in treatment
- Decreased risk of relapse
- Better relationships with mental health professionals
- General improvement in your overall treatment process
It’s important to note that having a peer recovery coach boosts the benefits that you are already getting in treatment. This means that you should continue to work with licensed mental health professionals in addition to receiving support from your peers. The combination of peer support and professional assistance simply increases your chances at reaching your recovery goals.
How Do I Choose a Peer Recovery Coach?
As noted above, a peer recovery coach is different from a mental health professional in that they typically do not have a license. However, when you are choosing a peer recovery specialist, be sure to find a certified recovery specialist. Certified peer recovery coaches have to fulfill specific requirements before they are ready to put their support into action.
The requirements to be a certified peer recovery specialist might vary by state. In Ohio, for example, you must complete specialized training, years of volunteer experience, and apply for certification before you are officially considered a certified peer recovery specialist.
The general guidelines outlined by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services include:
- Successfully maintaining self-recovery for at least two years
- Participating in in-person training as a peer recovery coach
- Online training about ethics, human trafficking, and trauma-informed care
- Volunteering as a peer recovery coach for three years or more
- Passing the OhioMHAS Peer Recovery Services exam
When you are looking to find a peer recovery coach for yourself, make sure to take note of their credentials. Their lived experiences alongside the intensive training on substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions makes them the perfect person to walk next to on your path toward lifelong recovery.
Where Can I Find Drug Addiction Treatment?
The first step in finding effective peer support that will help you recover from substance use disorders and mental health conditions is to complete a treatment program like the ones at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital. Our facility, located in Georgetown, Ohio, offers multiple programs that have been specially created to help you with your specific mental health and addiction needs.
Here, you will be able to build a peer recovery community—people who understand your struggles. You will be able to lean on each other through the most challenging times and practice long-lasting recovery skills. Afterward, you can find a peer recovery coach who will help you remember and use everything you learned in treatment. With this support, you will continue to move forward with your recovery. You might even end up helping others just like you.