What to Know About Peer Recovery Support Models

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The peer support model of substance abuse treatment has grown increasingly popular over the past several years. Evidence of its efficacy has been shown through a few studies of peer-based therapies for mental health disorders. Peer Recovery Support Services (PRSS) have limited empirical evidence in terms of substance abuse, but their outlook is promising. Peer supporters provide a quality of counseling that others cannot. Their experiential knowledge allows them to empathize with patients in a more meaningful capacity. And though the research is small and limited, many recovery programs have already implemented PRSS.

Methods of PRSS

The methods that peer-supporters are taught are different from those of professionals. They may learn to teach goal-setting, problem-solving, or other recovery-oriented tools to help their clients face the typical challenges that accompany recovery and preventing relapse.

Standard peer support models are as follows:

  • Professional-led group therapy with peer exchanges
  • Support groups
  • One-to-family or family-to-family support
  • One-on-one individual support

While peer support models can be conducted in many settings, there are unique qualities to PRSS that separates it from other models. First, peer support is non-judgmental. Peer supporters have lived similar experiences or lifestyles; therefore, clients may look at their support as non-judgemental. A professional who has never lived the experience may harbor feelings of judgment. This perceived judgment causes some patients to hold back on the information they may find embarrassing or shameful. With a peer supporter, clients are more likely to be honest.

Additionally, peer supporters are taught to be empathetic and compassionate towards their clients. Because of their experiential knowledge of substance abuse recovery, the peer supporter is better able to put themselves in their client’s shoes and share a similar perspective of their substance abuse. With a professional who has never had a substance abuse disorder, there is no illumination of feelings and lifestyles associated with substance abuse. They can go by what they are taught or from their experience with other patients, but empathy can only be superficial. Peer supporters provide comfort that professionals may not.


Peer support is reciprocal. Both parties are benefiting from the experience in one way or another. The client receives much-needed emotion and lifestyle change support, while the peer supporter is gaining better tools and a better perspective of substance abuse recovery. Peer support models also offer clients tools for rebuilding relationships post-treatment. Through PRSS, a client can make healthy connections with loved ones damaged during their substance abuse. At Avalon Malibu, we have peer-support models to help you overcome your struggle with substance abuse. Our dedicated staff and peer-supporters are equipped with skills and expertise to help mend the relationship with yourself and take the first steps toward recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder, call us today at (844) 857-5992

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