According to SAMHSA, Peer support services are delivered by individuals who have common life experiences with the people they are serving. People with mental and/or substance use disorders have a unique capacity to help each other based on a shared affiliation and a deep understanding of this experience. In self-help and mutual support, people offer this support, strength, and hope to their peers, which allows for personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery. Research has shown that peer support facilitates recovery and reduces health care costs. Peers also provide assistance that promotes a sense of belonging within the community. The ability to contribute to and enjoy one’s community is the key to recovery and well-being. Another critical component that peers provide is the development of self-efficacy through role modeling and assisting peers with ongoing recovery through mastery of experiences and finding meaning, purpose, and social connections in their lives.
SAMHSA’s Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) advances recovery by providing peer recovery support services across the nation. These services help prevent relapse and promote sustained recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders. For more information, visit SAMHSA’s What Are Peer Recovery Support Services? – 2009. Through the RCSP, SAMHSA recognizes that social support includes informational, emotional, and intentional support. Examples of peer recovery support services include:
- Peer mentoring or coaching—developing a one-on-one relationship in which a peer leader with recovery experience encourages, motivates, and supports a peer in recovery
- Peer recovery resource connecting—connecting the peer with professional and nonprofessional services and resources available in the community
- Recovery group facilitation—facilitating or leading recovery-oriented group activities, including support groups and educational activities
- Building community—helping peers make new friends and build healthy social networks through emotional, instrumental, informational, and affiliation types of peer support