University of Maryland, School of Social Work
Clinical Research Assistant
SCIENCE OF RECOVERY: Flash Session
Promoting Effective Peer Workforce Integration: The Importance of Clear Peer Roles, Stigma Reduction, and Fair Compensation
As a vital part of the substance use recovery support system, peer delivered services have been
associated with numerous consumer benefits. As numbers of peers have grown across settings,
barriers to peer workforce integration (PWI) have become evident, creating strain on peers, and
impeding full maximization of peer-derived benefits. This position paper examines components
of effective PWI, barriers to its implementation, and strategies to address these obstacles.
This inquiry was conducted by IRIS university staff and a diverse group of 17 Fellows, consisting
of peers, clinicians, managers, and academics learning about peer-focused, community-engaged
recovery research. IRIS’ position paper was grounded in Fellows’ practice and lived experience, a
review of academic and grey literature, and themes derived from interviews with 9 key peer
Effective PWI may be defined as fostering a culture of mutual respect, creating clarity around
peer roles, and providing wages and benefits aligned with peers' value. Identified barriers were:
1) under-recognized benefits of peer services, 2) lack of clarity of peer role, 3) stigma towards
peers, 4) poor and unsustainable peer financing and 5) lack of centralized entity for PWI
coordination. Strategies for effective PWI were: 1) build on evidence base for peer services, 2)
better prepare peers and organizations for PWI, 3) interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration,
4) provide greater financial security for peers, 5) expand peer-delivered peer supervision, and 6)
develop centralized coordination for PWI.
As calls for greater PWI are made and resources allocated to meet this demand, it is imperative
to conduct this expansion effectively in a way that honors peers’ value and supports their wellbeing. This peer-centered, research-based position paper may be used to inform organizational
and systemic PWI, inter-disciplinary advocacy efforts, and further research with a full national
scope, as Fellows’ and stakeholders’ perspectives were primarily Maryland-based.
Victoria Barreira is a clinical research assistant at University of Maryland, Baltimore on the Innovations in Recovery through Infrastructure Support. With a background in psychology and cognitive science, she has over three years experiences working in the mental health and recovery field.