HOW DO WE DO IT?
Living Room Cardiff’s peer support is the process of giving and receiving non-professional, non-clinical assistance to achieve long-term recovery from severe alcohol and/or other drug-related problems or harmful behaviours.
This support is provided by people who have similar characteristics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, co-occuring disorders) and experiential knowledge (understand recovery as a lived experience), and are able to assist others in initiating recovery, maintaining recovery, and enhancing the quality of personal and family life in long-term recovery. These similarities allow for mutual identification between the recipient and the helper, and give them a sense of confidence and trust. The relationship in peer support is non-professional, which means that it is closer to the reciprocity of friendship, and there is a minimal power differentiation between the helper and recipient. Support provided involves the provision of emotional, psychological, social and informational aid. ¹
¹ White,W. (2009). Peer-based addiction recovery support: history, theory, practice and scientific evaluation. Chicago: Great Lake Addiction Technology Transfer Center.
Process of recovery implies that there is a continuity of support over time, which is central to sustaining long-term recovery. The main focus is not on addiction–related pathology, but emphasising the empowerment of the person and building on their strengths and assets. Importance is placed on peer support and involvement of family members and friends in helping the person to build meaningful and valued lives, realise their aspirations and contribute positively to society.
WHAT DOES NON-CLINICAL MEAN?
Non-clinical means that it is different from clinical services that involve diagnosis and treatment by health care professionals. However, all peer workers are also being trained and appropriately supervised. Here, professional clinical services may have a peer quality to them when they are delivered by psychologists, social workers or addiction counsellors who are in recovery. To clarify this, individuals seeking recovery may receive peer support within a group therapy setting, but this is led by a professional therapist / addictions counsellor.
WHAT DOES PEER-BASED SUPPORT MEAN?
Peer based means that support and services are provided by individuals who have successfully achieved addiction recovery. Recovery is concentrated around three main elements:
1. sobriety (or working towards abstinence from the substance/drug/behaviour),
2. improvement in general health (physical, emotional relational), and
3. reintegration (community life and participation).