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Peer-Based Addiction Recovery Support: History, Theory, Practice, and Scientific Evaluation


The history of addiction treatment and recovery in the United States contains a rich “wounded healer” tradition. For more than 275 years, individuals and families recovering from severe alcohol and other drug problems have provided peer-based recovery support (P-BRS) to sustain one another and to help those still suffering. Formal peer-based recovery support services (P-BRSS) are now being delivered through diverse organizations and roles. The goals of this monograph are to 1) define PBRS and P-BRSS, 2) present a brief chronology of P-BRS in the United States, 3) discuss the theories and principles that guide the design and delivery of P-BRS services, 4) illustrate the current varieties of P-BRSS, and 5) review the scientific studies that have evaluated P-BRS and specialized P-BRSS. The monograph closes with a discussion of the strengths and vulnerabilities of peer-based recovery support and professionally directed addiction treatment services.


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Funding for this initiative was made possible by grant no. 1H79TI083022 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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