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Peer Support in African American Communities

Peer recovery support services (PRSS) are increasingly being offered across diverse criminal justice settings to address opioid misuse and achieve positive outcomes. The power and potential of PRSS comes from the unique roles that peers play, promoting both hope and pragmatic steps for change. As peer practitioners move into a variety of roles in the criminal justice system, programs need to be mindful and knowledgeable about how to effectively provide peer support to minority and underserved populations, and ensure cultural responsiveness on individual, programmatic, and organizational levels. This session focuses on how supervisors and administrative staff can:

  • Set a context in which peers are encouraged to build their personal knowledge, response, and cultural awareness about providing peer support to African American clients.
  • Promote cultural awareness and responsiveness throughout your organization.
  • Identify common challenges organizations face when providing peer support for underserved populations.
  • Describe the steps necessary for building your organization’s capacity for providing culturally responsive peer support to African American communities.


  • Carl Highshaw, MSW, is the Founder, CEO, and Executive Social Worker of Arming Minorities Against Addiction & Disease (AMAAD) Institute, a South Los Angeles-based Recovery Community Organization that provides grassroots peer-led recovery support in a manner that is purposefully and intentionally inclusive of African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
  • Andre L. Johnson, MA, a native Detroiter, is currently the President/CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project, a multi-service agency that provides a wide spectrum of support services to the city’s recovery community. 
  • Reginald (Reggie) Smith, MHPS, MSSW, is currently a Certified Peer Specialist following a long-term recovery from a substance use disorder and in long-term wellness from a mental health condition.

To view a PDF version of the slide deck from this webinar, click here.

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