Candidates Sought for Peer Recovery Support Specialists

The Addiction and Homeless Resources Task Force is looking for candidates to assist community members who need help recovering from addiction. Although these are not full-time positions, it appears there may be some funding available to provide some compensation to individuals who complete the required training and serve in this capacity.

The Addiction and Homeless Resources Task Force has been working since 2021 to devise strategies for addressing these issues in the Elkins area. The task force includes Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco, Randolph County Sheriff Rob Elbon, and City Councilor Dave Parker (Fifth Ward).

One strategy the task force identified is peer-supported recovery, in which people who are already in recovery are trained to help others access the services and support necessary for their own long-term recovery. These people are known as peer recovery support specialists, and the task force is seeking candidates interested in serving in this role.

Candidates need a high school diploma/GED. They must have been in recovery for at least two years and not have received treatment for a substance use disorder in the previous six months, except for medication assisted treatment (e.g., opioid dependency medications such as buprenorphine).

Candidates who are selected by the task force will receive training and work toward the PRSS certification issued by the West Virginia DHHR. Initial training includes first aid, CPR, and Naloxone administration.

Once trained, specialists would work in teams of two, in coordination with emergency health services, law enforcement, the court system, treatment and recovery programs, and harm reduction programs. These teams will primarily respond with medics or law enforcement to the scenes of overdoses or other substance-abuse related situations. They might also talk with people who have been hospitalized for substance use disorder or collaborate with mental health providers who help people recover from addiction.

Markie Jeffries, who is already a certified peer recovery support specialist, will lead the program and supervise the specialists. According to Jeffries, these specialists play a crucial role in the community response to addiction.

“Because of the stigma so many people place on addiction, it can be hard for people who need help to open up to someone in law enforcement or health care,” Jeffries says. “When I tell people my backstory and they see I’ve been in the exact same situation they’re in, they start opening up.”

Jeffries’s backstory includes an opioid addiction that grew out of what was at first only “social” use but eventually led to overdose and incarceration. She has been in recovery since 2017.

In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, working as a peer recovery support specialist has helped Jeffries in her own recovery.

“Doing this work helps keep me humble,” she says. “Throughout my recovery, I was so appreciative of the people who helped me, and I always hoped I could pay that forward by helping others. People suffering from addiction often feel there is no hope for them, and I’m able to show them that’s not true, there is hope for everyone—just look at me. It’s very rewarding work.”

To apply, please send a letter of interest to Markie Jeffries: markieleeann13@gmail.com. Your email should include your own recovery history, your reasons for wishing to serve as a peer recovery support specialist, and any other relevant information you wish to include.

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