As a Peer Recovery Support Specialist Trainer, I have seen many characters walk into my trainings. The beautiful thing about position is just about anyone from any walk of life can become a Peer Recovery Support Specialist by identifying as a person in long-term recovery for two or more years. In one of my recent trainings, I encountered a quietly reserved and humble man, who didn’t participate in much discussion due to his shyness. There was another man in that training, a gentle charismatic and passionate man; he was inquisitive and full of wonder.

I didn’t know it at the time, but these two gentlemen had come from backgrounds in which I would have not been open to, if I had not worked at an agency that believed in second-chances and the concept of recovery on so many levels. After the training, both men immersed themselves in peer support work. They began volunteering immediately and have become my star pupils. When collecting their recovery stories to share with the world, I was in disbelief of the places their addictions had taken them. I was surprised because the men I saw in front of me were not the same as described.

Today, both are entering the peer work force with so much to give to the Southern Nevada community. Because of the places their addictions had taken them, they are able to reach two populations who are in desperate need of hope and encouragement. Stigma cannot touch the motivated individual. Society tells us, “You will never get a job with that record.” We prove them wrong. Society tells us, “You will never be a good person because of the bad things you did.” We prove them wrong. Society tells us, “People don’t change.” We prove them wrong. Like the saying goes, “If anyone can become addicted, ANYONE can recover.”

Chelsey Mony, Project Director Nevada Statewide Recovery Network Project FFR