Peer support is the collaboration between community members and an agency aiming at meaningful involvement of peers and based on principles mutuality and empowerment.

Our work shows that there are different ways to establish peer support and there are, of course, a number of aspects which need thorough discussion before starting a new project.  First, there are some choices to be made between three  basic organisational models:

  1. Self-organisation: peer support by a (more or less) autonomous self-organisation, such as an interest group or an advocacy group. LINK WHO?/Self-organisations
  2. Integrated initiatives: embedding peer support in a professional or voluntary organisation. See WHO?/Integrated initiatives
  3. Collaborations that combine both elements of self-organised and agency- supported initiatives.  Most peer support projects are some kind of a collaboration of drug users and professionals.  Due to different views on collaborations and in local situations, different choices have been made on whether or not to embed peer support in professional drug aid agencies. See: WHO/Collaborations

“In the same vein, we encourage harm reduction programs to assist drug users in organizing themselves and speaking out for positive change. Organizations that provide services for drug users, should also work with drug users. We invite the sharing of skills, knowledge, and resources between users and non-users, so that people who use drugs can become better self-advocates.”

Open Society Foundation, Harm Reduction at Work