Peer Recovery Program Meets Substance Abusers on Their Own Territory
The Peer Recovery program pairs a patient with a certified counselor who is also in recovery, someone who can share their own experiences and determine the best way to help each individual find his or her own way to sobriety. Raynard White, Jefferson Regional’s Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, has been on both sides of the fence. “I was a drug user myself for more than a decade,” the Pine Bluff native explained. “I know how badly we need this program in our community, and I’m excited to be part of it.”
The biggest benefit of Peer Recovery is having a support person who has been in your shoes and is comitted to being there for you, not just as a counselor but as a fellow addict who wants to see you succeed. “Generally in the past, all you had were programs such as AA and Cocaine Anonymous, but they were strictly group programs, and a lot of people thought that was the only way to get clean,” Raynard said. “Then you had in-house rehabs, and after 30, 60 or 90 days they drop you off at the curb and say ‘OK, now, go out there and figure it out.’ Now we have multiple pathways to reach that goal of sobriety.” Most importantly, Peer Recovery is designed to create situations where patients and Support Specialists can bond over similar experiences. “In other words, if good structure and the love of cooking keep you away from dope, then cooking is your pathway! If your particular structure demands that kind of profile, then we meet them where they are and offer things they need individually to make it through the process.”
Raynard’s office is located in the Jefferson Regional Emergency Department, the first stop for most patients with drug, alcohol or mental health problems. “I will get consults through physicians, social workers, and direct individuals coming in. I let them know who I am, what I do, and then gather as much as information as I can about them. Then I contact the family.
Many times, a person will come in with these issues, and after you get to know them, you’ll find another family member is struggling with the same thing, so we try to connect that person as well to the broader recovery community.”
At Jefferson Regional, the Support Specialist position is funded through a grant from the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP), a non-profit organization created to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and the delivery of healthcare in Southeast Arkansas. “I think working with people who have been through the same experiences is extremely helpful because they see you as an example – they see you live and do what you say. The biggest factor is just utilizing those experiences to draw a larger picture and show them how recovery is possible. Life can look very grey sometimes, but we can put some color on it. If they can see me when I tell them yeah, I slept in abandoned houses and I did this and that, and then see where I am now, what I’m doing now and how I conduct myself … at that point they are seeing themselves in the future.”
For more information on Peer Recovery services, contact Raynard White at 501-396-9857.