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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Hope for Recovery: Peer Support Workers in Kentucky

In 2020, folklorist Ethan Sharp of Lexington, Kentucky, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to conduct 16 oral history interviews with workers involved in peer support counseling for people with substance abuse disorders in his home state of Kentucky. In response to the opioid epidemic, the state government and addiction treatment facilities in Kentucky expanded training and employment opportunities for people in recovery from substance use disorders, allowing them to serve full time alongside clinicians in paid positions as peer support specialists. In these in-depth oral histories, interviewees recall their own lives – lives which were often complicated by substance dependency; how they became interested in working as counselors; their occupational training; personal and job-related challenges; and their plans for both their personal futures and the future of their profession.

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