Skip to main content

Peer Recovery Support Services Mentoring Initiative

Increasingly, peer recovery support services are an important—and sometimes central—part of efforts to effectively address the substance use and misuse epidemic. Peer-based services can be a vital part of the continuum of care for efforts to address alcohol and drug use—including opioid and stimulant misuse.

The Peer Recovery Support Services Mentoring Initiative (PRSSMI)—a special learning opportunity offered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP)—supports programs, organizations, and jurisdictions interested in incorporating peer recovery support services (PRSS) into their portfolios of substance use disorder intervention and treatment strategies. The purposes of PRSSMI are to:

  • Promote peer-to-peer learning among organizations that are implementing PRSS in criminal justice settings.
  • Disseminate evidence-supported PRSS programming, promising approaches, and best practices.
  • Enhance the capacity to develop PRSS as a component of organizations' diversion, alternatives to incarceration, or other criminal justice-focused programs.
  • Improve ability to successfully implement a PRSS program, in collaboration with community partners.

PRSSMI provides an opportunity for new or early-stage peer programs to be matched with and learn from an experienced program in a structured way. Mentee sites receive consultation and support from the staff of experienced programs, culminating in visits to mentor sites (PRSSMI will cover travel for up to three persons). Mentee sites are expected to:

  • Engage a consistent team of three to five individuals.
  • Participate in virtual meetings and learning sessions throughout the mentorship (approximately once per month).
  • Have at least two team members participate in site visits to the assigned mentor sites.
  • Develop a brief workplan for program development based on lessons learned from the mentorship.
  • Complete a survey questionnaire at the end of the mentorship.

Listen to “The Power of Peers: Highlighting the Peer Recovery Support Services Mentoring Initiative” podcast, showcasing two mentor sites and two mentee sites that participated in the PRSSMI last year.

Audio Transcript

All questions MUST be answered for your submission to be considered. Further details on the PRSSMI program and application process are available on the Mentor Program FAQs and Mentee Program FAQs. For questions not addressed by these documents or for tailored assistance, please contact Tiffany Lombardo at


Peer support services are an evidence-based model of care that consists of a qualified peer support practitioner who assists individuals with their recovery from substance use disorders and mental illness. The term Peer Recovery Support Services (PRSS) refers to the wide array of person-centered, nonclinical supports provided by peer practitioners (also referred to as peer specialists). As outlined in the following graphic, there are four types of PRSS: (1) emotional, (2) instrumental, (3) informational, and (4) affiliational; often, a service or support falls into more than one category.

Type of Support Description Examples of Peer Recovery Support Services
Emotional Demonstrate empathy, caring, and concern to bolster person’s self-esteem and confidence.
  • One-on-one peer mentoring or coaching
  • Peer-led support groups
Instrumental Provide concrete assistance to help others accomplish tasks. Increase access and opportunities; reduce barriers.
  • Help accessing community health and social services
  • Providing housing or child care vouchers
  • Providing public transportation passes
Informational Share knowledge and information and/or provide life or vocational skills training.
  • Discussing therapeutic court process
  • Training for job readiness
  • Offering wellness seminars or classes
  • Training on self-advocacy
  • Offering parenting classes
Affiliational Facilitate contacts with other people to promote learning of social and recreational skills, create community, and acquire a sense of belonging. Arranging outings or activities such as:
  • Sober Softball
  • Bowling league
  • Alcohol- and drug-free dances, movie nights
  • Lunches
  • Celebrations and rituals

Through recovery/goal planning and sharing resources, a peer specialist encourages a process of making healthful choices; creating or recreating a meaningful life; and being of service to family, friends, and community. Peer support has been shown to improve access to social supports, decrease criminal justice involvement, and provide greater housing stability. It has also been shown to improve relationships with treatment providers, increase treatment retention, increase satisfaction with the overall treatment experience, and decrease substance use.

Pick Your Pathway Pathway