Spurred by the area’s epidemic of overdoses from substance abuse, Mountwest Community & Technical College will offer a one-year peer recovery support specialist (also known as a recovery coach) certificate beginning in spring 2016.
The primary goal of a peer recovery support specialist or recovery coach is to help guide others to find and sustain long-term recovery from addiction, alcoholism and/or mental health issues by helping them gain access to resources in the community. With the aforementioned epidemic in the region, the need for recovery coaches is expected to rise in the coming years as more people find their way from addiction to recovery. Naturally, they will need a person with lived experience to help show them the way.
“Peers in recovery are vital to the recovery process,” said Greg Perry, project coordinator at Recovery Point of Huntington and adjunct professor at Mountwest. “Using their lived experience—having been there and done that— they provide unique insight and can therefore identify with others who are seeking to change their lives.”
Recovery coaches are just now starting to be in demand in the area’s licensed behavioral healthcare facilities. Other venues such as drug courts and recovery houses or programs are starting to acknowledge the need as the recovery community continues to expand and grow.
As a curriculum at the community and technical college level, peer recovery covers topics such as the history of addiction treatment and recovery in America, motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care and processes used to bring about change in an individual. Students also have the opportunity to work with providers in an authentic peer-to-peer recovery program to see how peers help others find recovery. Education and action are the two primary components of not only the curriculum, but also of long-term recovery from substance abuse or alcoholism, according to Perry.
“We have hundreds if not thousands of local people in long-term recovery right here in our community,” Perry added. “Peer-to-peer recovery has been proven effective over the last century, and it is effective in West Virginia. By acquiring the education and skills we provide, a person can immediately make an impact on the lives of others through being a recovery coach or peer support specialist. Our area needs people with lived experience of addiction, alcoholism, and recovery.”
Individuals who complete the program have the opportunity to acquire a peer recovery credential from the West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals. The credential from WVCBAPP has been offered since August of 2014, and it signals a basic level of education in the job’s boundaries and ethics, among other topics.
For more information, contact Candace Layne, Mountwest mental health counselor, at (304) 710-3388.