Ava Gale Allison
As a person in long-term recovery, I am so pleased to be able to work in a program that provides the kind of services we provide here at the center. My recovery began in Clayton County 23 years ago, at which time I began volunteering at Clayton Center. I began employment with the CSB shortly thereafter, as well as obtaining my Credential in addiction counseling. I have seen the addiction services at Clayton CSB expand and grow to meet the high needs of the community during this time to include day treatment, drug court, and residential services, among others.
The peer support model for services we use here at PCLEC is based on the concept of “the wounded healer”–the idea that people who have survived illness, addiction or trauma may have special abilities to help others facing similar challenges. We are part of a movement that reflects not a rejection of scientific knowledge and professional treatment, but an effort to integrate addiction science, clinical experience, and knowledge drawn from the lived personal experience of persons in addiction recovery.
Between 1965 and 2010, the percentage of addiction professionals with lived personal experience of addiction recovery plummeted from more than 70% of the workforce to approximately 30% as educational credentials became more valued than experiential knowledge. Today, there is a regrowth of the recognition and value of peer-based recovery support services provided to individuals outside the 12-step network. This recognition is evidenced by the grant given from DBHDD for the center here. A new generation of peers are working in volunteer and paid roles within recovery community organizations, in addiction treatment programs, and within such allied fields as primary healthcare, emergency rooms, child welfare, and criminal justice.
The advent of peer support services in addiction is an important milestone within the history of addiction treatment and recovery. Such services stand as potentially important resources to speed recovery, enhance service retention in treatment, and facilitate the transition to recovery maintenance.