As part of the Substance Use Disorder Council’s focus on well-rounded approaches to supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery solutions, the council developed a grant to bring Peer Recovery Specialist training to our community. Next Step Foundation was awarded the grant in 2020 and began the training. These specialists are used to aid in substance use disorder treatment that utilizes the lived experiences of the path of recovery, combined with training and supervision, to assist others in their journey of recovery. According to Next Step Foundation, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety but rather connection.
Shawn Pendergraf, Peer Recovery Specialist, said, “Our community needs peer recovery coaches because there’s still a real-life drug crisis in our community. Peer recovery is evidence-based practice and is the embodiment of reducing stigma. Allowing us to become coaches is one of the biggest ways to reduce stigma and it is the bridge between those in active addiction and the community that wants to help.” Peer Recovery Specialists are important because they understand and have gone through the same experiences of those they want to help.
The funds have allowed Next Step to conduct multiple local peer recovery specialist trainings and so far, they have trained over 60 new peer recovery specialists. Training peers locally gives the solution to our problems right here. Shawn stated, “I grew up hearing that it takes a community to raise a child and I believe that it takes a community to help someone recover. Training peers locally is a way to get people involved locally, and it is a strong statement for our community health by taking it on personally.”