A 5-Step Guide to Getting Involved in Peer Support for Recovery

June 8, 2022

Have you successfully gone through rehabilitation, established an incredible sober lifestyle, and now want to empower others to do the same?

Or maybe you watched a friend or family member struggle with addiction — maybe you even lost them to it — and now you want to help ensure other people don’t lose their loved ones.

If either of these resonate with you, being a peer support worker might just be one of your callings in life.

In this article, we’re going to break down what’s involved in being a part of a peer support environment, as well as give you a step-by-step guide for how to get involved today.

What is peer support?

It’s important to know exactly what peer support is so you can clearly discern if it’s something you want to do. A peer support worker — sometimes also called a peer support specialist —is someone in a paid position who works to help people successfully go through recovery. 

Typically, this worker has gone through recovery themselves and now offers an “on the other side” level of experience and inspiration to those still battling addiction. Sometimes they’re just someone who feels called to help those in recovery.

What does offering peer support look like? 

This support can look a little different depending on the environment you’re volunteering in, but your work would generally consist of providing empathy, knowledge, experience, as well as practical tips for recovery and long-term sobriety.

Peer support often also includes:

  • Providing emotional support by validating experiences and feelings
  • Sharing personal experiences, lessons and even setbacks
  • Acting in a leadership role to facilitate teamwork, relationships and a community
  • Researching additional or professional resources, services and support
  • Continuing your own education, personal development, growth and sobriety

If being a peer support worker is something you’re more than ever convinced is something you want to do, you’re in the right place to learn exactly how to get involved.

How to get involved in peer support

Since the process of becoming a peer support worker can look a little different depending on your state’s regulations, we’re going to keep this simple and give you a set of five standard steps anyone can follow to get involved in peer support.

1. See if there are peer support jobs near you

Peer support work is a rapidly growing field, but a new field nonetheless, and many cities are not yet offering paid positions. If this is the case with where you live or in nearby places, a potential alternative role would be that of mentor in addiction recovery support groups, though this is a volunteer position.

2. Research peer support requirements in your state

Depending on where you live, there could be: 

  • Trainings
  • Mandatory certifications
  • Background checks
  • Personal qualifications and experience
  • Educational or professional prerequisites 

Set aside an hour or so to research the requirements in your state so you know what to expect.

3. Enroll in the necessary training

Once you’ve figured out if you’re eligible, it’s time to see if there are any peer support trainers in or near your location, as training is a pretty standard practice for becoming a peer support worker. It’s also important to know if your state only accepts specific trainers, you don’t want to go through a whole training program only to find its provider isn’t accepted by your state.

4. Obtain a certificate (if needed)

Obtaining an official certificate is not something that every state requires, however, many of them do. If you’re in a state that requires certification, no matter how much of an ideal background, personal experience or training you have, you won’t be recognized as a peer support worker without that certificate. There are different levels to being certified; typically, the basic certifications are required, and the higher level certifications are optional.

5. Reach out for professional guidance

Whether you have personally gone through addiction recovery yourself or are simply someone who feels called to help those battling addiction, getting involved in peer support for those in recovery is a wonderful and powerful form of volunteer work.

Here at October Road, we love empowering you to empower others, which is why we’ve made the process of getting involved in peer support for addiction recovery as easy as possible.

To get started today, all you have to do is fill out this form or give us a call at 888-201-5086 to speak with one of our experienced staff members, and we will walk you through the process.