Peer-Recovery Coaches for Overdose Victims


Finding your way into a room of recovery, such as a 12-Step meeting, often happens long after it should; because let’s face it, addicts and alcoholics are typically resistant to change, even if it means saving one’s own life. Albeit with ample access to recovery services, the majority of people suffering in addiction never get the help they desperately require.

In the United States, amid a scourge of heroin and prescription opioid abuse, there are millions of addicts who could benefit from the gift of recovery. Yet, even after an overdose, many will continue using despite the inherent risks and the increased likelihood of experiencing another overdose after the first. Some people will have several overdoses before they decide that they want to live and are ready to give recovery a chance.

In recent years there has been a push to help overdose victims find addiction recovery, especially right after the occurrence when the pain and fear of death are in the forefront of one’s mind. Naturally, the best place to reach someone in that instance is inside the emergency department. While doctors and nursing staff may be able to encourage and succeed in getting an overdose victim into a treatment program, in many cases the advice of medical professionals will fall on deaf ears.

In some states, utilizing what are known as “peer-recovery coaches” has proven to be effective in getting overdose victims to understand that there are only two options, overdose death or giving recovery a shot. But, unlike medical professionals, recovery coaches typically are recovering addicts or alcoholics themselves, which means they are in a unique position. The reality is that a number of people who are active in their addiction will not respond well to people who do not themselves know firsthand the struggle and despair of the disease.

In Rhode Island and several other states, policy makers are investing in peer recovery coaches; they do not just help overdose victims find recovery, they also assist them in getting housing and employment, CNN reports. This summer, Rhode Island committed to assigning a peer recovery coach to every hospital emergency department. There are number of states who have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic that are working on funding efforts to place peer-recovery coaches in emergency rooms, including:

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin

If you are in recovery and live in a state that offers or is working to establish this service, you may consider this as a new opportunity to be of service. 

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