The Power of Peers

September 1, 2017

Caroline Miller, MSW
Director, Wisconsin Voices for Recovery
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Division of Continuing Studies

We know that recovery is more than just an individual journey.

People in recovery strengthen not only their own lives, but the lives of their family members and their entire community. There are countless examples of how a person in recovery can positively influence the world around them. One such way is by providing peer support – to be a part of recovery support services that help people in or seeking recovery to find and maintain healthy and fulfilling lives.

Wisconsin Voices for Recovery has the opportunity to be a part of sharing peer support services across the State of Wisconsin through its participation in the State-targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis grant recently awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services by SAMHSA.

According to SAMHSA (2015):
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.

The Wisconsin Voices for Recovery Hospital-based Recovery Coaching Network, ED2Recovery, will focus specifically on implementing a peer support and recovery coaching program in Emergency Department settings. The ED is often times a critical point of entry for an individual who has survived an opioid overdose. With ED2Recovery, an individual can meet with a peer support provider – someone with lived experience who is there to listen and offer support and resource options in the ED setting. Peer support can then be offered as an individual seeks additional treatment or recovery support services for their opioid use disorder.

The main goals of the program are to increase treatment utilization, reduce Emergency Department recidivism, and decrease the number of overdose fatalities in Wisconsin. The program will:

  • Increase partnerships across systems and stakeholder groups, including county human services (crisis teams), treatment providers, hospital systems, Recovery Community Organizations, and peers
This innovative approach to addressing the opioid crisis in Wisconsin is just one way that people in recovery are working to strengthen families and communities this Recovery Month.  

When a person recovers, there is a ripple effect that can impact the world around them. This Recovery Month, please join Wisconsin Voices for Recovery and recovery organizations across the country in celebrating the reality of recovery, educating others about the reality of addiction, and honoring those we have lost to the disease of addiction. Let’s continue to support recovery and strengthen individuals, families, and our communities by seeking innovative ways to make a difference.

About our guest blogger:

Caroline Miller is an Associate Researcher with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies and Director of the the Wisconsin Voices for Recovery project.

Read other posts by Caroline Miller:

What do med students and prescribers need to know about opioid use disorders?

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