Consumer Peer Program Enhances Client Experience

Meta House is grateful to receive support from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) for our Consumer Peer Specialist program. Determined to be a best practice based on outcomes from a three-year pilot project, Families Come First, Consumer Peer Specialists are integral members of a woman’s treatment team.

As self-identified former users of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, mental health or co-occurring services, Consumer Peers can uniquely relate to current program participants by sharing their own experiences and providing encouragement and inspiration. Personal experiences are fortified through formal training as a Wisconsin State Certified Peer Specialist.

Consumer Peers engage clients during intake and entrance into residential treatment. They help clients understand information and procedures and provide assurance to women and mothers that they will be treated with dignity and respect. They provide mentoring to help clients make healthy decisions and offer support and motivation to meet recovery goals, encouraging perseverance through residential treatment and continuation onto the outpatient program. In addition to supporting engagement in treatment, Consumer Peers act as advocates for client needs and interests, provide transportation and accompany clients to appointments.

Their companionship promotes stability, independence and confidence. By providing empathetic support and modeling successful recovery, Consumer Peers increase retention and engagement by women in Meta House’s treatment program. Research shows that the longer a woman stays in treatment, the greater her chances of maintaining long-term sobriety. Consumer Peers empower clients to get the treatment they need to attain long-lasting, successful recovery from substance abuse disorders.

Four Consumer Peers have been working in both the Residential and Outpatient programs to engage and support clients in their treatment. New this year are two Consumer Peer-led groups – a play group in the residential program and a group for participants in the Family Drug Treatment Court.

Clients have responded positively to the bond they develop with their Consumer Peer, making the program incredibly valuable for giving women the support they need to succeed in treatment and thrive in early recovery.