Peer Support Brings Added Value to Recovery at RHA

Peer Support Services are recovery-focused, person-centered services for adults living with mental illnesses or substance use disorders.

At RHA, individuals who receive peer support services are paired up with a certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS) who will help guide them on their recovery journey. A PSS is someone with lived experience who has graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others on their journey.

With the help of a certified Peer Support Specialist, people learn how to manage their own recovery and build self-advocacy skills. Having guidance and support from someone who has “been there, done that” is what many in recovery value the most about peer support services. A PSS serves not only as a mentor but also as a source of hope and inspiration to people who are beginning the recovery process.

Brenden was a recipient of peer support services at RHA Health Services. With the help of a PSS, Brenden was able to access services that changed his life, including Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment. He shares his experience in a video filmed by UNC Psychiatry:

Thank you, Brenden, for sharing your story!

Are you looking for support on your recovery journey? Visit us at to view behavioral health services by state.

Peer Support at RHA Inspires Those in Recovery to Give Back

Donna received peer support services from RHA during her recovery – now, she’s a certified peer support specialist at RHA.

At RHA, individuals who receive peer support services are paired up with a certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS) who will help guide them on their recovery journey. A PSS is someone with lived experience who has graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others on their journey.

For some, peer support services are so impactful on their individual recovery journey that it inspires them to give back. This was the case for Donna, a Peer Support Specialist with RHA who utilized our peer support services during her own recovery journey. In this video from UNC Psychiatry, she talks about her experience:

Donna’s story echoes that of many of the peer support specialists at RHA Health Services, including team members like Cole, Ethel, and Tanya, whose stories you can read by clicking here.

If you’re interested in becoming a Peer Support Specialist or helping people in recovery, visit to learn more and view available positions near you.

Thank you to Donna and others for sharing their stories and providing inspiration and support for others in recovery!  

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 to learn more.

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

A Way Out of the Darkness: Wilmington Substance Use Services Testimonial

The journey to recovery is unique to every person, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to support. Below, one participant in RHA’s SAIOP substance use services in Wilmington, NC, shares their recovery experience:

March 24, 2021, may seem like a normal day for the majority of people but for me it was the first day of my journey to recovery and sobriety. I spent three years in a vicious cycle of drug use that controlled my life. I was unable to save myself from the hold that heroin had on me. I struggled to take back my life. Throughout the last year of my addiction I was searching for a way out of the darkness of addiction and back into the light, but I was unable to find the help I needed.

In the beginning of March I overdosed, and it took six doses of Narcan to bring me back to the world. It took me days to process this, but it made it clear I needed to find help to overcome my addiction. I finally moved back into my family’s home and they began to help me search for ways to get me help. I was in withdrawal and two days later I was checked into The Harbor detox facility in Wilmington run by RHA Behavioral Health Services.

After I finished my stay at The Harbor and went for further treatment at RHA I went into SAIOP at RHA, and they have truly changed my life. Through group sessions you are able to find your way back into control of your life and talk openly with like-minded individuals for the support needed to maintain your sobriety. RHA has guided me through one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. They are continuing to guide and support me through sobriety.

RHA has many different ways to support a recovering addict. They have doctors to help with medication maintenance and counselors for group and one on one sessions. They are able to assist addicts in ways an addict may not know that they need. The employees of RHA are the most amazing people. Without RHA I would have never made it to four months sober, and have the tools necessary to help me maintain my sobriety to make it through my first year and many more years to come!

group therapy for substance use


What is SAIOP?

RHA offers Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Services (SAIOP) to people struggling with addiction to substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and opioids. This program is offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three hours a day. Most of our sites offer morning and evening groups to better meet your needs. SAIOP provides you with the opportunity to participate in group therapy, drug screening, education, and development of healthy coping skills. Our goal is to help you live a healthy life without the use of drugs and alcohol.

Learn more about RHA’s mental health and substance use services in Wilmington.

RHA is a Community Sponsor of the Blue Ridge Recovery Rally

RHA Health Services is proud to be a community sponsor of the second annual Blue Ridge Recovery Rally. The event is Saturday May 19th in Downtown Marion NC from 5 to 9pm.   All are welcome to this free family friendly atmosphere.  Activities include a walk and a 5K run, music and art, and guest speakers and recovery stories.

Communities across the country are struggling with addiction to substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and opioids.  The Blue Ridge Recovery Rally will celebrate, educate, and initiate positive change as we work together to build healthier communities.  Our goal at RHA Health Services is to help each person we support to understand their addictive disease and to establish a commitment to recovery.

Other community partners for the Blue Ridge Recovery Rally include, Vaya Health, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, the City of Marion PD, A Caring Alternatives, The McDowell County Sheriffs Department, Freedom Life, Celebrate Recovery, Mission Hospital, and US Cellular.

For more information about the rally call 828-559-2224 or email