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Peer Recovery Services for Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder (SUD) is one of the most widespread and persistent public health challenges facing the United States. SUD presents an array of health consequences by itself and is closely correlated with other illnesses with adverse health effects such as mental illness. Estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggest that over 19 million adults 18 and older (7.7%) lived with SUD in 2019. Minnesota falls closely in line with the national average, with 325,000 adults 18 and older (7.6%) experiencing SUD. One emerging intervention to aid individuals with SUD is the use of Peer Recovery Support (PRS) services. PRS use peer specialists in recovery from SUD to come alongside people currently experiencing SUD and provide treatment, informational, emotional, social, or other types of support. 

Use of PRS in Minnesota has been gaining popularity since 2010, when the first recovery community organization (RCO) was established. As of October 2021, there are 13 operational RCOs and a host of substance use treatment providers across Minnesota that employ peer recovery in some fashion. Federal and state sources have awarded around $2 million in funding through grants towards peer recovery in Minnesota since 2017. Starting in 2019, peer recovery was added to the list of SUD services that are reimbursable through Medicaid and the state’s Consolidated Chemical Dependency Treatment Fund (CCDTF). 

Though there is a growing literature addressing the efficacy of peer recovery in assisting people with SUD, the vast majority of studies focus on PRS in very narrow settings with specific populations. This means that while evidence of PRS’s effectiveness in promoting treatment and reducing SUD severity is promising, the generalizability to broader SUD populations remains limited. 

This study utilizes a statewide database of treatment claims to further understand the causal effect of PRS on relevant treatment and health outcomes for the SUD population in Minnesota. Specifically, our research question asks: What is the effect of receiving one or more peer recovery sessions on relevant treatment and SUD outcomes, relative to similarly situated SUD patients that did not initiate peer recovery.

Project Registration Date:  

January 24, 2022 

Project Status:  

In Progress 

Project Lead:  

Cody Tuttle

Evaluation Priority Area:

Human Services

Project Pre-Registration

Project OSF Page

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