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Promoting Recovery

Involving Consumers

The process of recovery is a personal one. As such, consumer self-direction, choice and empowerment are essential aspects of services for individuals with co-occurring disorders. They are linked with greater satisfaction with services as well as positive recovery outcomes. In addition, being able to interact and make mutual connections with people that understand ones feelings and experiences can be a key part of recovery.

Self-Directed Care

Self-directed care programs give consumers control over public funds to purchase services and supports for their own recovery. They enable informed consumers to assess their own needs, determine how and by whom these needs should be met, and monitor the quality of services they receive. Self-directed care programs incorporate the following components:

  • Person-centered planning in order to put in place the full range of services and supports needed to help people achieve their goals
  • Individual budgeting to enable people to have some control over how the funds used for their care are to be spent
  • Education and coaching to help individuals design and manage their plans and make informed decisions and purchasing choices
  • Financial management services to track and monitor budgets, perform payroll services, and handle billing and documentation
  • Expanded provider networks to incorporate nontraditional providers of services

Consumer-Operated Services

Consumer-operated services are peer-run service programs that are owned, administratively controlled, and operated by consumers with mental and co-occurring disorders. These services emphasize self-help as their operational approach. These services may augment services provided by traditional providers or they may serve as alternatives to traditional services. Consumer-operated services include:

  • Peer support groups
  • Peer counseling and mentoring
  • Information and educational programs
  • Drop-in centers, offering a spectrum of services and referrals
  • Consumer advocacy groups

Peer Support Services

Peer support services are designed and delivered by people who have experienced co-occurring disorders and are in recovery. They may be provided through a consumer-operated organization or they may be offered through a traditional provider. These services help people become and stay engaged in the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Because they are designed and delivered by peers who have been successful in the recovery process, they provide both a powerful message of hope as well as a wealth of experiential knowledge.

Peer support services include:

  • Peer mentoring and coaching involving a one-on-one relationship between the individual with co-occurring disorders and a peer with recovery experience
  • Connection to needed treatment, services and other recovery resources
  • Facilitating and leading recovery groups (both support groups and educational groups)
  • Building community and helping people make new friends and build alternative social networks

Mutual Self-Help Groups

Mutual self-help programs incorporate values of personal responsibility and peer support, and usually make use of 12-step methods prescribing a planned regimen of change. These groups recognize the unique value of people in recovery sharing their personal experiences, strengths, and hope to help other people achieve and maintain recovery. These groups are membership organizations, in which individuals take turns leading the meetings. They are not consumer service programs.

A related model is the supported self-help model for people with co-occurring disorders. It is a service intervention rather than a membership organization and uses trained facilitators to initiate, implement, and maintain support groups.

Consumer Advocacy

Individuals with co-occurring disorders have an important role to play in planning, program and policy development at the local, state and federal level. Many states seek consumer and family representatives to participate in committees that shape and improve the service delivery system.


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