We’re back with November’s Specialist Spotlight! We can’t wait to introduce you to Lucia, a Peer Recovery Specialist at Wayside Recovery Center. Lucia is a dedicated and enthusiastic recovery coach with a passion for empowering women. Keep reading to get to know Lucia, she’s a superstar!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m originally from Baltimore and moved to Minnesota about six years ago. My plan was to live in sober housing for six months and then return to Baltimore, but I started to build an amazing community and fell in love with the Twin Cities, especially St. Paul.
Q: What inspired you to become a Peer Recovery Specialist?
A: Before working as a Peer Recovery Specialist, I was working in women’s reproductive health care. I knew I wanted to continue working with women and I really connected with the work and mission of my organization, Wayside Recovery Center. Being a Peer Recovery Specialist combines my love for empowering women with sharing my experience in recovery.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about being a Peer Recovery Specialist?
A: It is very rewarding to partner with someone and see them get excited about changing their life. Also, my own idea of recovery has changed so much thanks to the work I do. I realized how narrow-minded my idea of recovery used to be. Now, one of my favorite parts of my job is seeing women define their recovery and program on their own terms, unique to their needs.
Q: Do you have a go-to philosophy that guides you as a Peer Recovery Specialist?
A: One of the hardest, and most important, guidelines for me to remember is that my program of recovery is not everyone’s program. There are so many different paths and versions of what recovery looks like in an individual’s life. I feel very passionate about the tools I use to keep me sober, but that does not mean those tools are effective for everyone. What’s most important is that someone feels supported in working towards the recovery goals that they create for themselves.
Q: It's great that the recovery community is so supportive of each other. Is there someone that has been especially supportive in your journey as a Peer Recovery Specialist?
A: There have been so many people along the way who have supported me, but all of my coworkers at Wayside come to mind. From our clinical team to our nurses to our Treatment Assistants, I have always felt like we were working together to provide the best care for our women and children. Wayside, and my coworkers, have always encouraged me to build upon my position and given me the freedom to try new things.
Q: Where do you see the Peer Recovery Specialist field heading over the next five years?
A: My hope is that other substance use disorder facilities take advantage of Peer Recovery Specialists and support the work in the way that Wayside has supported me. Mental health peer support has been around for years, but for many reasons, Peer Recovery Specialists do not have the same employment rate. There are over 400 trained Peer Recovery Specialists in Minnesota alone, so I hope over the next five years we can start putting trained specialists inside facilities.
Q: Self-care is so important, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of work?
A: A lot of my self-care involves spending time with my support people - my friends, my partner and connecting with my family. When it’s warm out, I try to spend all my time outdoors swimming and exploring. For the rest of the year, I do a lot of reading and playing cribbage with my partner (and winning).
Q: Tell us a little about your experience using Recovree.
A: I think Recoveree is an amazing app. Without a reminder from Recoveree, I often forget to check in with myself and that is the fastest way for me to get burnt out. I need to make sure I am assessing where I’m at emotionally to gauge if I’m doing enough self-care. Also, as someone working in the field of recovery who is also in long-term recovery, it’s important I check in with myself to ensure I’m engaging in my own program.