Do Peer Recovery Specialists Improve Outcomes for Individuals with Substance Use Disorder in an Integrative Primary Care Setting? A Program Evaluation

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2020 Dec;27(4):704-715. doi: 10.1007/s10880-019-09661-z.


Peer recovery specialists (PRSs) combine their personal experiences with substance use and recovery with clinical skills to support patients in treatment for or recovery from substance use. This paper provides evaluation findings from a SAMHSA-funded program that integrated a PRS team into a primary care clinic to assess the efficacy of PRS support on patients' substance use, healthcare involvement, and criminal justice involvement. PRSs provided a range of services to patients with histories of incarceration and substance use, including facilitating support groups, providing one-on-one individualized support, and navigating services. Data were collected from PRS-supported patients at intake, discharge, and 6 months post-intake. Results revealed reductions in the percentage of patients using substances in the past 30 days, decreased number of days using alcohol, increased engagement in more medical services after program enrollment, increased school enrollment, and increased rates of employment for PRS-supported patients.

Keywords: Evaluation; Integrated primary care; Peer recovery specialists; Substance use recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New England
  • Peer Group*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Specialization
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urban Population