For Immediate Release: Aug. 31, 2023
Contact: Alisa Bousa, Public Information Officer
Alisa.Bousa@ujs.state.sd.us | 605.773.2031
New Peer Support Specialist Pilot Program to Guide Drug Court Participants on the Road to Recovery
PIERRE, S.D.—A new pilot Drug Court program in the Second Judicial Circuit aims to connect people battling addiction with coaches who have successfully navigated the difficult road to recovery.
A grant from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation will support a new effort designed to create a network of peer support specialists who can help Second Circuit Drug Court participants navigate the path to recovery. Graduates of the Second Circuit Drug Court who wish to become certified peer support specialists can enroll in a training program to learn how to use their lived experiences to help others who are battling addiction.
Drug Court, which is a program of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System, offers those who’ve committed more than one nonviolent drug-related crime access to counseling, treatment and support to achieve sobriety. Drug Court’s goal is not only to help participants overcome addiction, but to help them return to society as sober and productive members of their communities.
“Research is showing us that this is how we provide wrap-around care for Drug Court participants,” said Dez Kincaid, coordinator for the Second Circuit Drug Court. “Peer support specialists can help bring others out of misery through their own lived experiences by affirming a clinician’s guidance, by reinforcing recovery recommendations and strategies, and by modeling behaviors as a peer. That modeling is so important in the way we learn and the way we process things.”
Dr. Melissa Dittberner, a professor in the Addiction Counseling and Prevention Department at the University of South Dakota, developed the curriculum for the peer support specialist training in collaboration with Diane Eide, a project manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care. Dr. Dittberner will be spearheading the training.
The peer support specialist training will begin in September as a pilot program in the Second Judicial Circuit, which includes Lincoln and Minnehaha counties. For more information about Second Circuit Drug Court or the new pilot program, contact Kincaid at 605-215-2648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About South Dakota Courts: The Unified Judicial System (UJS) consists of the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts and State Court Administrator’s Office. The Supreme Court is the state’s highest court and final decision maker on South Dakota law. The Circuit Courts are the state’s trial courts where criminal proceedings and civil litigation are handled. The State Court Administrator’s Office provides centralized administrative assistance and support services for the South Dakota judiciary. Learn more at https://ujs.sd.gov.