Benefits

“Peer workers can give ‘person-based’,  ‘experience-based’ and ‘message-based’ credibility to health promotion in the context of intimate, illegal, and stigmatised behaviours such as illicit and injecting drug use.”

Annie Madden, The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL)

 

Integrated initiatives have several benefits:

Better continuity of the projects.  Most self-organisations of drug users have had problems in sustaining themselves on a long-term basis.  The way of life related to illicit drug use   especially criminalisation  often appears to interfere with a continual commitment to steady involvement.

Better professional support for the involved drug users:
on a professional level (training - in knowledge, methods and attitudes - and supervision of the workers)
on an organisational level (team structure, etc.),
and on a personal level (personal problems, etc).

Peer expertise within the agency.  Information and experiences (about drug use techniques, social values, attitudes, etc) from peer workers are available to all the staff working in the agency.  Employing drug users also means acceptance and acknowledgement of them as competent members of society.

Peer workers within an agency have easier, workable contacts with other health and social service agencies than self-organisations, because they can use the existing network of the agency.  This is especially important to facilitate referrals when needed.

The agency can act as a firewall against negative actions by law enforcement agencies, neighbourhood initiatives, etc.  The agency will be supportive in building good relations with those who might otherwise hamper the development or work of the initiative.