Peer Recovery Specialist Vs Addiction Counselor
This article explains the benefits of earning your masters and becoming a licensed counselor, along with the differences between an addiction counselor and peer recovery specialist.
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked substance abuse counselor as #1 in Best Social Services Jobs and #35 in 100 Best Jobs.
If you’ve advanced in your recovery from substance use disorder and want to help others achieve the same success, becoming a certified peer recovery specialist can offer rewarding work experience and an effective gateway into the addiction recovery field. Like addiction counselors, peer recovery specialists work with people who are struggling with addiction, helping to assess their needs, set goals and develop strategies for achieving those goals. However, these are two very different careers, with different educational and professional requirements. Explore the differences in more detail below.
Our National Advisory Council
Our National Advisory Council composed of activists, musicians, actors, artists, comedians and other public figures who are dedicated to being Ambassadors of Faces & Voices of Recovery’s mission. They carry a strong and effective message of hope in recovery and each have made a significant impact on improving the public’s perception of addiction and recovery through their own work in the United States and internationally.
Peer Recovery Vs Addiction Counseling
Addiction counselors are clinical practitioners who follow evidence-based practices to provide treatment for people with substance use disorders. Addiction counselors work with patients and other health care providers to identify substance use issues and develop individual treatment plans. Drug and alcohol counselors may also be dually licensed as professional counselors to diagnose co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression. While counselors work closely with patients, they must also maintain rigid professional boundaries at all times.
Peer recovery specialists play a supportive role in the addiction treatment process, focusing on providing clients with information and emotional support. Like counselors, peer support specialists practice in accordance with a code of ethics. While they must maintain professional boundaries, the nature of the relationship is different than that of a counselor. The peer recovery specialist’s job is to establish a relationship of trust with the recovering person and serve as a living example that addiction recovery works if you establish and follow the plan.
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Certified Recovery Peer Specialist
The CRPS credential is for people who use their lived experience and skills learned in training to help others achieve and maintain recovery and wellness from mental health and/or substance use conditions.
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The CRPS credential designates competency in the domains of Recovery Support, Advocacy, Mentoring and Professional Responsibilities. CRPS credentials also include endorsements to demonstrate the certified professionals lived experience. Available endorsements are described below.
The CRPS credential is recognized for billable services by Floridas State Medicaid Plan.
CRPS applicants must hold a high school diploma, general equivalency degree or higher.
Addiction Counselors Have A Broader Range Of Professional Opportunities
The education and clinical training required to become an addiction counselor opens the doors to a variety of career opportunities in the addiction field. This is especially true for counseling practitioners who hold a master’s degree in addiction counseling.
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked substance abuse counselor as #1 in Best Social Services Jobs and #35 in 100 Best Jobs, based on criteria including median salary, unemployment rate, growth, and future job prospects.1
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Take The Next Step: Earn Your Master’s Degree In Addiction Counseling At Hazelden Betty Ford
If you’re serious about a counseling career or seek opportunities to excel in the addiction field, there’s no substitute for earning your master’s degreeand the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies offers the highest standards of educational excellence.
Surveys find that more than 99.5% of Hazelden Betty Ford graduates taking the licensing/certification examination within six months of graduation passed the first time* and 92% found employment within six months of graduation.**
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Program
If youve ever heard the expression Walk a mile in my shoes, you know the essence of peer support services. Peer support empowers people living with behavioral health challenges to receive help from someone whos been there. By sharing their experiences, strengths, knowledge, and hope, Tennessee’s Certified Peer Recovery Specialists deliver this evidence-based practice in a method that conveys mutual respect and personal responsibility.
Tennessees Certified Peer Recovery Specialist program provides State certification for individuals who provide direct peer-to-peer support services to others who have mental illness, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders.
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What Are The Certified Addiction Recovery Coach Education Requirements
The following is an outline of the 60-hour education/training requirement for Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and the BSAS/AdCare-sponsored trainings that meet these criteria. Completion of all trainings listed will satisfy the 60-hour CARC requirement. The training schedule is found on the Recovery Support Trainings page. Please review all CARC eligibility criteria on MBSACC website.
Registered Peer Recovery Specialist
Effective January 3, 2018, all Certified Peer Recovery Specialists will be able to register with the Board of Counseling. Certification is mandatory to register with the Department of Health Professions Board of Counseling. Registration with the Board of Counseling is required for billing Medicaid. Certification from any National or State certification body that meets Virginia standards is recognized for the purposes of Registration.
You can learn more about Registered Peer Recovery Specialists at:
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Virginias Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Credential
A Peer Recovery Specialist is a self-identified person with lived experience with a mental health and/or addiction condition who is in successful and ongoing recovery from mental health and/or addiction challenges. Peer Recovery Specialists use their lived experience to support another persons recovery journey.
This publication was prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration .
Benefits Of Becoming A Licensed Counselor Vs Peer Recovery Specialist
Peer recovery and addiction counseling careers are both rewarding opportunities to help individuals, families and communities heal from the impact of addiction. Both require compassionate people with strong interpersonal, communication and listening skills.
An addiction counselor may treat addiction through the implementation of evidence-based practices such as Twelve Step Facilitation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Motivational Enhancement Therapy. Peer recovery specialists engage in supportive roles but do not provide counseling. For instance, a recovery specialist may help a peer advocate to their counselor to ensure their recovery needs are being met. They may also help their peer identify resources to make it to counseling appointments.
Here’s a quick comparison of the differences between addiction counseling and peer recovery careers.
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Addiction Counselors Do Not Need To Be In Recovery Themselves
While requirements vary by state, in most cases you must be in recovery from a substance use disorder to become a peer recovery specialist. While it’s not uncommon for addiction counselors to be in recovery or have a loved one who has struggled with addiction, it’s not a requirement of the position and is not necessary for the role. Learn more about the personality traits of effective addiction counselors.
Bsas Recovery Support Trainings
Search and register for individual Recovery Support Trainings below, including Recovery Coach trainings, sponsored by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. All upcoming Recovery Support trainings and events provided by BSAS/AdCare and other entities are listed on the Trainings & Events calendar. To decide which training is right for you, go to Peer Recovery Coach and Recovery Supports.
Priority will be given to BSAS & SAMHSA-funded programs, MA residents seeking CARC or CARC Recertification, and those Supervising Recovery Coaches and other Peer Workers.
All trainings offer certificates of attendance, which are not the same as being Certified. Many online trainings require pre-work. Training dates are posted when trainings are scheduled registration links are added then or later.
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We Understand What Youre Going Through Because Weve Been There Ourselves
Our Addiction Recovery Coaches serve as mentors and coaches, supporting you along your recovery journey. As certified Peer Recovery Coaches, they are qualified to offer support, hope and inspiration because they understand your struggle. Theyve been through challenges with substance use and/or mental health issues. OneEighty Peer Recovery Coaches have direct, lived experience. They self-identify as being in active recovery from substance use, and have been certified by Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services. Like our clinical staff, our Recovery Coaches are required to obtain Continuing Education Credits. OneEighty Peer Recovery Services are community-based services for individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorder, and include treatment programs, services, and activities that promote recovery, self-determination, self-advocacy, well-being, and independence.
Long-term recovery is possible.
OneEighty Addiction Recovery Coaches stay consistent in their support of our clients and often bridge the gap between a client and other treatment staff. They relate to the client on a personal level, meeting them where they are spiritually, mentally, and physically. Peer Supporters lead by example by living their own recovery in this community and showing clients that long-term recovery is possible.
OneEighty Recovery Coaches offer hands-on support with the following:
- Wayne County Sheriffs Department
Social Work Ceus Are Available For All Rcu Workshops Offered In Partnership With Prepared Training
I truly enjoyed learning from Lori and Keith. They were a wealth of knowledge and their stance on how to actually help people struggling in active addiction was one of the most powerful and compassionate teachings Ive ever heard.
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Addiction Counselors Have Greater Earning Potential
Because counseling careers require more advanced education and clinical training than peer support specialists, addiction counselors tend to earn more in salary. Drug and alcohol counselors also enjoy greater opportunities to raise their earning potential as they advance in their education and career. Learn more about how much you can earn as an addiction counselor.
What Is A Peer Recovery Specialist
A peer recovery specialist is someone who is in recovery from a substance use disorder and/or co-occurring mental health disorders, and wants to use their lived experience to help others reclaim their lives from addiction. Because peer recovery specialists have shared many of the same challenges as a person in treatment, they can often bring a valuable perspective to the recovery journey and make deep connections with the individuals they support. While peer support is not professional counseling, it can help patients to transition into life in recovery when used in conjunction with counseling. Peer support is also valuable in communities where there may be limited access to addiction treatment services.
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What Is A Certified Peer Recovery Specialist
Certified Peer Recovery Specialists provide non-clinical, person-centered, strengths-based, wellness-focused, and trauma-informed support while partnering with someone in the development of their wellness-recovery plan.
Certification is not mandatory for employment in Virginia. An individual may support another persons recovery with or without certification or registration. An employer may choose the qualifications, certification, or registration of peer supporters they hire. It will be important for non-certified, non-registered roles to exist so that individuals may collect the experience they need to become certified or registered.
Scholarships for CPRS Application
Effective January 1, 2022, the Virginia Certification Board is pleased to announce that the scholarship for the CPRS application fee and retest fee has been renewed! DBHDS is currently offering a scholarship for $150 to cover most of the application fee of $175. Therefore, applicants only need to submit $25 with their application materials. The discounted fee is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Also included in the scholarship is a retest fee waiver. Candidates who fail the exam will have their retest fee waived. The retest fee waiver is limited to one/per applicant. Scholarships for initial application and retesting will be processed on a first-come-first serve basis through September 30, 2025. Questions about the application process and/or retesting should be directed to
Our Board Of Directors
The elected board members of Faces & Voices of Recovery are a voluntary group of leaders who serve the addiction recovery community. The board jointly oversee the activities of the organization, supports its membership, and the implementation of the strategic plan. The board is organized in terms of officers Chairperson, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. As a national organization led and governed by the recovery community, over 51% of our Board members are individuals in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs and bring their personal lived experience of recovery to guiding the organization.
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What Is A Recovery Coach
A recovery coach acts as a partner in the recovery process. Whether a client is in the throes of addiction or already well into their recovery, you will be able to assist them throughout all stages of their recovery by offering guidance, strength, and support.
A Recovery Coachs responsibilities may include but are not limited to
- Working with the client and their family to find appropriate resources for initiating and maintaining recovery.
- Minimize the obstacles to recovery by identifying challenges to and opportunities for long-term sobriety.
- Offering support to the addicted individual and their families as they enter and progress through treatment and recovery.
- Assist in post-treatment maintenance of sobriety by directing the recovering addict to appropriate resources and support systems.
While a Recovery Coach will have a degree of mental health knowledge, they are not counselors and therefore will not treat clients on a clinical level. However recovery coaches do have ethical and professional responsibilities to which they must adhere. They should also follow confidentiality practices to the same degree that medical professionals would.
A Short Story About Us
The Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-health Professionals Certification Board is a private, non-partisan corporation which offers voluntary international and state level credentials to the behavioral health worker. The Board, comprised of certified and licensed professionals and peer recovery specialists throughout the state, implements standards, testing and training for certifying addiction counselors, co-occurring disorders professionals, criminal justice addictions professionals, clinical supervisors, and peer recovery specialists and their supervisors. It also approves providers of continuing education training in Maryland. Links to these documents can be found on the Certification, CPRS, and Training pages.
MABPCB is always looking for board members who can strengthen our service to behavioral health workers in the state. If you hold an IC& RC credential or you have a keen interest in what we are doing, please fill out and send the Board Membership Application to us. We promise to get back to you after our next board meeting. Meetings are usually held every other month, and sometimes more frequently as needed.
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What Distinguishes Recovery Coaches For Other Peer Or Recovery Support Roles
The hallmark of a Peer Recovery Coach is lived experience with addiction and recovery and completion of specific training to support individuals seeking recovery from substance use.
Other peer support roles require lived experience, such as Certified Peer Specialists, who work in the mental health field and there are Recovery Support roles that do not require lived experience, such as Recovery Navigators and Recovery Specialists. For more information on peer and non-peer Recovery Support Roles, see this comparison table of peer support roles, and the Recovery Supports page.
Education: Generally, Peer Recovery Coach positions require a high school diploma or GED, but there are exceptions per employer.
Training: There are specific trainings required for people who want to become Peer Recovery Coaches, and general recovery support trainings open to all Recovery coaches and peer workers. The training schedule is on the Recovery Coach Trainings page. A high-level, printable summary of BSAS/AdCare trainings which meet education requirements for Certification, Re-Certification and to become a Supervisor is available here.
To attend the Recovery Coach Academy, you must:
If you are an administrator or community provider who would like to attend this training to enhance providing or overseeing recovery support services, but do not meet the criteria, please contact or to discuss waiver of criteria.
Recovery Support Trainings
What Peer Recovery Specialists Do
Serving as role models for self-care, peer recovery specialists provide support in a number of different ways, such as helping clients identify and build on strengths, set goals and access the appropriate health care resources. They may act as a client’s individual advocate while also encouraging the client to self-advocate. Peer recovery specialists work in both public and private settings, including drug and alcohol recovery programs, community centers, hospitals and telehealth services.
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