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Do you live with a mental illness and/or drug and/or substance disorder?  Do you desire to make an impact in the mental health field by sharing your recovery story? Peer support specialists also known as recovery coaches or peer counselors are shifting the way the way society views mental health conditions, drug and substance use disorders. In the state of Maryland, individuals in recovery are becoming certified peer recovery specialists through the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral Health Professionals Certification Board. The certification leads to employment in emergency rooms, psychiatric units, prisons and agencies to provide additional support to clients.  

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, peer support workers bring their own personal knowledge of what it is like to live and thrive with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Peers share personal experiences, reveal the power of recovery and provide hope. Peers do not replace the roles of therapists, case managers, and other members of a treatment team, they  assist clients with reaching personal goals such as moving from residential housing to independent living and help gaining employment.

Who would have thought that you can make a career out of your challenges with mental illness and/or drug and/or substance use disorders, and inspire others?

Here are a few steps to pursuing your certification as a certified peer recovery specialist:

  1. Complete an application through the he Maryland Addiction and Behavioral Health Professionals Certification Board and pay a $100 fee.
  2. You must sign a peer recovery specialist-specific code of ethics statement or affirmation statement. The certification board must have a written enforcement and appeals mechanism to maintain ethical standards.
  3. You must receive 46 hours of behavioral health specific training.
  4. 10 hours must include the following domains (advocacy, ethical responsibility, recovery and wellness support and mentoring/education). These trainings may include a concentration on substance use disorders, mental health, co-occurring disorders, or trauma-informed care.
  5. You are required to obtain 500 hours of specific paid or volunteer peer recovery support experience in a clinical or community setting (inpatient, outpatient, residential, community or outreach) in the last two years is required.
  6. Documentation of 25 hours of supervision, at least 5 hours in each of the domains (advocacy, ethical responsibility, recovery and wellness support and mentoring/education) and 5 hours of general supervision which includes self-care.

For more on pursuing a certification and/or career opportunities as a peer recovery specialist/recovery coach, please visit