Peer support services are an important part of the treatment and recovery process. Certified Recovery Peer Advocates (CRPAs) draw from personal experience with substance use, and professional training to provide non-clinical support services as identified in the patient's treatment or recovery plan. CPRAs may also help those in treatment/recovery in the development of recovery plans, effective coping habits, and life skills for navigating recovery.
Although peer services emphasize the knowledge and wisdom of lived experience with addiction, peers are encouraged to be extremely calculated in how they share their story or pull from first-hand knowledge to ensure that it benefits program participants.
The primary function of a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate is facilitating outreach with individuals currently in a program or considering treatment. Utilizing their recovery expertise, professional training and lived experience, peers boost individuals' engagement in treatment and commitment to recovery. CPRAs also connect patients to community-based recovery supports consistent with treatment, recovery, and discharge plans. Certified Peer Recovery Advocates duties may include:
- Non-clinical crisis support, especially after periods of hospitalization or incarceration
- Educating program participants about various modes of recovery
- Accompanying clients to medical appointments
- Raising awareness of existing social and other support services
- Linking participants to formal recovery supports
- Assisting with applying for benefits
Peers may work in a variety of settings including OASAS outpatient programs under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. They may also find work in hospital emergency departments and various home and community-based service settings as they become available across the state.
Certified peers also provide support in court rooms for individuals working through criminal justice matters, or accompany individuals to doctors appointments if needed.
To pursue certification as a Recovery Peer Advocate, an individual must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Hold a high school diploma or have their GED and pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC-RC) exam;
- Complete 46 hours of required training (advocacy, mentoring and education, recovery and wellness, and ethical responsibility);
- Complete at least 500 hours of related volunteer or work experience; and
- Complete at least 25 hours of supervision by qualified supervisory staff
After completing the 46 hours training in the required domains, you are eligible for a provisional certification (CPRA-P), valid for 2 years while you complete the remaining requirements for full certification.
Upon completion of all required training and related work hours (paid or unpaid, candidates can apply for nonclinical peer positions and upgrade the full Recovery Peer Advocate Certification. To receive full certification, you must submit an application,1 and register for and pass the Peer Recovery exam. Your certification is valid for 3 years.
The New York Certification Board is the only entity authorized by OASAS to oversee the training and certification of Certified Recovery Peer Advocates in New York State.