RHA’s Peer Support Services Empower People in Recovery to Help Others

Ethel A. and Tanya S. graduated from substance use programs at RHA – now they work for RHA in North Carolina helping others in recovery.

At RHA, Peer Support is an important part of our substance use services. Our Peer Support Specialists are people with lived experience who have graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others in recovery.

While Peer Support is not a required element of programs like SAIOP at RHA, most people elect to participate.

“Since embedding Peer Support into SAIOP our success rates and our graduation rates have absolutely skyrocketed,” said Cole S., who leads the Alamance, NC SAIOP Peer Support Team. “Our [Peer Support Specialists] provide an added layer of support of people in recovery. They’re more available than a counselor, they meet with you on a weekly basis, and they provide that sort of warm handhold that gives people the confidence to go to recovery groups or participate in other recovery-oriented activities that might otherwise seem intimidating.”

Cole has worked with many people who have gone on to become Peer Support Specialists themselves. One of those people is Ethel.

Ethel was a Peer Support Specialist with RHA for four years until her recent promotion to Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Before that, though, Ethel was a client seeking services with RHA.

“I actually participated in SAIOP [at RHA] three times,” said Ethel. “I was unsuccessful the first two times, but the third time I was in treatment, with the support of my Peer Support Specialist, Cole, I was successful.”

After graduating from SAIOP, Ethel returned to RHA in a job as a Peer Support Specialist, where she went on to work with many people in recovery—one of whom was Tanya.

“I think my experience in SAIOP at RHA absolutely saved my life. I learned a lot about myself, how to cope with my traumas, and about the disease of addiction… and I enjoyed my time in peer support so much that it inspired me to go into this field once I graduated.” said Tanya.

Although Tanya has only been a Peer Support Specialist with RHA for a few months so far, she reports that the work has had a huge impact on her personally.

“This role is impactful. I am reminded every single day of the exact place I was in, and that means a lot to me. I know how hard it is, I know how difficult life seems in early recovery. I can see myself in [the people I support]. It’s rewarding for me, because I understand, and I can offer them hope that the things they’re going through won’t last forever.” said Tanya.

Ethel echoed Tanya’s sentiment.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to give back what was given to me. There’s something special about peer support and working one-on-one with somebody and watching their growth. I tell people that all the time. Like, with Tanya and others who I’ve worked with who are now successful, to know that you really made a difference [in their recovery] is incredible. You come in hoping that you can do that, but to actually see it, it’s just indescribable.”

Sara H., a Behavioral Health Regional Director with RHA in NC, reports that the team has been great for the community.

“Working with the Alamance Substance Use team is a true honor. They strive to guarantee strong recovery principles and aptitude within our agency and community, and Ethel and Tanya are a cornerstone of this team…”

Ethel, Tanya, and Cole are just a few of the incredible team members helping people in recovery every single day. If you’re interested in Peer Supported Services, or RHA’s other Behavioral Health programs, please visit https://rhahealthservices.org/behavioral-health-services/ to learn more.

Thank you to Ethel, Tanya, and Cole for sharing their experiences and for all the incredible work they do every day!