Peer-based Recovery Support Services

Peer-Based Recovery Support Services (PRSS) are recovery support services designed, developed, and delivered by peers. Peers are uniquely qualified because they have practical experience in both the process of recovery and how to sustain it. In addition, peers derive significant benefit from helping others, known as the “helper principle” (Riessman, 1965, 1990). 

PRSS provides social support to individuals at all stages on the continuum of change that constitutes the recovery process. Services may be provided at different stages of recovery and may: 

  • Precede formal treatment, strengthening a peer’s motivation for change
  • Accompany treatment, providing a community connection during treatment 
  • Follow treatment, supporting relapse prevention
  • Be delivered apart from treatment to someone who cannot enter the formal treatment system or chooses not to do so

Research shows that recovery is facilitated by social support (McLellan et al., 1998), and there are four types of social support (Cobb, 1976; Salzer, 2002) that peers can ethically provide. Note, the four categories below refer to types of social support and are not discrete services or service models.

Social SupportDescriptionExamples
EmotionalDemonstrate empathy, caring or concern to bolster a personu2019s self esteem, hope and confidencePeer MentoringnRecovery CoachingnPeer-led Support Groups
InformationalShare knowledge and information and/or provide life or vocational skills training.Parenting classnJob readiness trainingnWellness seminarsn
InstrumentalProvide concrete assistance to help others accomplish tasks that are connected to (re)building their life in their communityChild CarenTransportationnHelp accessing community health and social servicesnHousing Supports
AffiliationalFacilitating contact with other individuals to promote learning of social and recreational skills, create community, and acquire a sense of belonging.Recovery centersnAlcohol and drug free socialization opportunitiesn