What is Peer-to-Peer Support?

Peer support links people living with addiction and dealing with recovery. People with a common illness are able to share knowledge and experiences – including some that many health workers do not have. Peer support is frequent, ongoing, accessible and flexible. Peer support can take many forms – phone calls, text messaging, group meetings, home visits, going for walks together, and even grocery shopping. It complements and enhances other health care services by creating the emotional, social and practical assistance necessary for managing the disease and staying healthy.

Peer support has four core functions:

Assistance in daily management
Peer supporters use their own experiences with diet, physical activity and medicine adherence in helping people figure out how to manage diabetes in their daily lives. They can also help in identifying key resources, such as where to buy healthy foods or pleasant and convenient locations for exercise.
Social and emotional support
Through empathetic listening and encouragement, peer supporters are an integral part of helping patients to cope with social or emotional barriers and to stay motivated to reach their goals.
Linkages to clinical care and community resources
Peer supporters can help bridge the gap between the patients and health professionals and encourage individuals to seek out clinical and community resources when it is appropriate.
Ongoing support, extended over time
Peer supporters successfully keep patients engaged by providing proactive, flexible, and continual long-term follow-up.