Reduce The Stigma – Meet The Peer: Vanessa Needles, Peer Support Specialist

Meet The Peer: Vanessa Needles, Peer Support Specialist in South Dakota

"I think that's kind of the biggest thing for me, my lived experience in recovery is making those mistakes, but not having to go back to those really self-destructive modes that I've resorted to many times. And I don't know, this next chapter in my life that I'm currently in right now is healing and...It is by far the best choice that I have made for myself."

Vanessa Needles Peer Support Specialist South Dakota Addiction Mental Health Recovery

In this powerful episode of Meet the Peer, we are introduced to Vanessa Needles, a peer support specialist in South Dakota, who shares her inspiring journey of recovery, resilience, and the power of peer support.

The Path to Becoming a Peer Specialist 

Vanessa’s journey began as a teenager after a traumatic car accident that changed her outlook on life. Struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction, Vanessa found herself at rock bottom. However, after seeking treatment and becoming sober, she decided to embark on a new path by becoming a peer specialist. Vanessa’s goal is to help others who have gone through similar experiences by sharing her story and providing support.

The Power of Peer Support

Peer support is unique in its ability to connect individuals on a deeper level, as peers have often shared similar experiences. This shared understanding allows for a stronger bond and a greater impact than traditional professional support. Vanessa emphasizes the importance of meeting people where they are, understanding their unique struggles, and providing resources and encouragement to facilitate growth and healing.

Harm Reduction and Self-Acceptance

A significant aspect of Vanessa’s approach is harm reduction, which focuses on providing support and resources to individuals without judgment or expectation. By meeting people where they are, Vanessa can help them make positive changes in their lives, whether it’s related to substance use, mental health, or personal growth. She stresses the importance of self-acceptance and not letting past experiences define one’s identity.

Embracing Growth and Change

Vanessa acknowledges that growth is an ongoing process and that everyone has areas in which they can improve. By fostering a supportive environment that respects individual autonomy, Vanessa hopes to empower those she works with to make positive changes in their lives.

Breaking the Stigma of Addiction and Mental Health

Stigma surrounding addiction and mental health is a significant barrier to seeking help and support. Vanessa challenges this stigma by openly discussing her experiences and encouraging others to do the same. By sharing her story, she hopes to break down barriers and empower those who have gone through similar struggles.

Final Thoughts

Vanessa Needles’ story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the unique impact of peer support. By sharing her experiences and providing a safe, supportive space for growth and healing, Vanessa is changing lives and breaking down the stigma surrounding addiction, mental health, and other challenging experiences.

If you or someone you know is struggling, remember that you are not alone. Reach out for help, share your story, and take the first step towards healing and growth. Together, we can break down stigma and empower those in need.

Click here to schedule a peer support appointment with Vanessa.


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