Road to Recovery

New Peer Support Specialist Program to Help Parents

Local News

Three organizations are teaming up to help parents who are struggling with addiction or recovery.

This comes after an announcement was made at Recovery Reinvented for people to become peer support specialist certified.

Sanford Health, North Dakota’s Behavioral Health Services and Burleigh County Social Services have launched a peer support specialist pilot program giving parents who are going through recovery or struggling with addiction someone to talk to.

“This is a program that’s going to allow non-judgmental support to a mom or a dad that really wants to know what are the services out there,” explains Lacresha Graham, a Behavioral Health Administrator for Behavioral Health Services.

Peer support is a recovery service that connects recovering addicts or others in need with a mentor.

Kristy Johnson is not only a peer specialist, she was also selected to run the pilot.

She has faced the same disease as the people she helps.

“I struggled with addiction to meth for many, many years. Nine years. And my rock bottom was when I couldn’t stop using when I was pregnant with my daughter years ago. And so after the trials and tribulations of recovery and trying to stay sober. You know how lonely it could be, just trying to jump through the hoops of the system just to try and regain your life back, regain your self worth. I was bound and determined to use my experience to help other people get through it as well,” shares Johnson, a peer support specialist.

She said she criticized pregnant women who used drugs until she became one herself.

“I was too scared to go get prenatal care. I was scared that I wouldn’t get the help that I need. I was scared of judgment. And I feel like this is really going to open doors for people that are just overall very fearful of coming forward in asking for help with their problems,” said Johnson.

Now five years in recovery, she has her own program named Call Kay where people can call her phone to receive the help and mentoring they need.

“My job is to basically meet people where they’re at. Help them through their struggles. Relate to them. If they call and say, ‘hey this is what I’m going through.’ They have somebody on the other end of that line that can say, ‘you know what, I know how you feel. Let’s try this.’ We walk that journey together. Side by side,” explained Johnson.

The information about Call Kay and the pilot program was presented to Sanford Health staff members so they can educate their patients.

“They’ve made it easy with brochures, cards. Anything we can give to these patients and they could keep it in their pocket. Or we can present it in a way that’s non judgmental,” said Bethany Bernhardt, the Clinical Lead of the Birth Center at Sanford Health.

Part of this new pilot program, Johnson will be available to help those who are in need of her services at all times of day.

Even if it’s at 2 a.m.

Call Kay is available today for those seeking a peer support specialist.

The program is only in Bismarck as of right now, but is looking to grow statewide.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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