On Tuesday, March 12, Certified Recovery Specialists Chelsea Crocker and Pat Dooley came to speak to our class about the work that they do for Magellan Behavioral Health. As Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS), Crocker and Dooley identify their roles as mentors and resource brokers. They work in Recovery Support Services, assisting individuals in the recovery process of a substance use disorder. They meet people where they are, literally and figuratively- they assist individuals who are incarcerated, individuals in treatment, individuals who are leaving transitioning out of treatment, and anywhere in between. Aside from having work credentials, Crocker and Dooley are considered specialists from their own experiences with a substance use disorder. In this way, they are able to mentor and relate to individuals throughout their treatment and recovery. Crocker and Dooley also work as resources to assist in helping individuals with resources like housing; getting on food stamps; finding a job; getting healthcare; finances; getting into recovery, intensive outpatient care, meetings, or groups; or other services individuals may need. Dooley stressed that, in a disease that stresses separation and loneliness, one job of a CRS is to be a connection. They also focus on alleviating not just physical barriers, but mental ones too. They conduct a strengths-based assessment in order to help individuals see where their strengths lie, and reassure individuals that they are worthy of their recovery. Crocker and Dooley teach people how to rely on themselves, and, when successful, essentially work themselves out of their job.

The job of a CRS is one that I had not known of before, but one that I can absolutely see the importance of. Like Crocker and Dooley explained, the work that they do blurs lines between different professions, and rolls many jobs into one. While they are mentors, bridges to connections, and next-step advisers, I think their most important role stood out as one of overall support and understanding. They both stressed the importance of not just being mentors to the individuals they work with, but also being a voice of reason and understanding for them. Crocker and Dooley mentioned that, while other professionals can certainly help individuals in and coming out of treatment, the bond that a CRS has with the people they work with is strong, because they can relate to what the individual has been through. This is so important, because when someone is going through something like a substance use disorder, it’s easy for outsiders to not fully understand the situation, and not be able to completely empathize or relate with the individual, which could make the individual feel isolated or cause them to think they’re “crazy.” To have a CRS be able to relate and comprehend their situation, I feel it would certainly motivate these individuals to be more open about and accepting of their experiences and have confidence in their recovery process. I was also happy to hear that there are now more CRS jobs, because I think it’s something a lot of individuals could thrive on in the process of their recovery, which may not have been an option before.