MARVINA | Peer Recovery Coach

“I got started as a peer recovery coach because I had the mindset that I wanted to be able to help just one person.”

My first experiences with drugs and alcohol were at a very young age and were often encouraged by family members. Experimenting with drugs eventually became a habit, including stealing cocaine from my mom and missing school. After graduating high school, I started using meth and got arrested. I had an abusive partner, but I never left because I didn’t want to leave my children. I started selling meth and was even involved with a cartel—I knew I needed more from life, but I didn’t know what. After being arrested for selling meth, I went to inpatient treatment, and this was when things turned around for me. Through treatment and self-reflection, I was able to find recovery and keep my children. 

Today, I am a peer recovery coach, offering emotional support, motivation, and encouragement to others who are still struggling with addiction. When you go through treatment, so many people tell you what you need to do, and you can’t help but think, “How would you know?” That’s why my lived experiences are so meaningful; I can relate to what others are going through because I know it. 

When it comes to those conversations, it’s essential to give people the time and space to be ready and make sure they know everything is confidential and that you won’t judge them. You have to stay positive in your tone and your mindset. You can’t bring a damaged attitude to the peer recovery coach job. You have to try your best to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present. 

It’s important to check in on people who we know need the most help managing their mental health and/or substance use diagnosis, and are at highest risk. We have to think about what they need and what they are going through. I try to focus on those one-on-one conversations, and I always leave on a positive note no matter what is going on in someone’s life.

Peer recovery coaches need to be good role models because everything you do in the community is watched. Your successes represent hope for others. 

Honesty is the foundation of change. If you’re being honest with yourself, being honest with others comes easier. I got started as a peer recovery coach because I had the mindset that I wanted to be able to help just one person. Today, I know I’ve helped a lot more than that, and I will continue to do so.