ER-Based Coaches Connect Overdose Survivors To Treatment

Dec 23, 2014

A six-month-old program to help overdose survivors get connected with addiction treatment is getting some results, according to the state’s behavioral health agency. The program puts recovery coaches on call in emergency rooms throughout Rhode Island to reach out to survivors before they’re sent home.

An empty bed in the Rhode Island Hospital emergency department.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The recovery coaches are trained peer counselors, in recovery from addiction themselves. They try to link overdose survivors with addiction treatment, and educate them about preventing another overdose.

Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare director Craig Stenning said that of the 89 survivors approached so far, 80 have agreed to try treatment, and they’re sticking with it.

“Every person that comes into the program continues to follow up," said Stenning, "so that we are making repeated calls. But since they are in some type of recovery, the recovery coach themselves is in continuous touch with them.”

Stenning says the program is currently in Rhode Island, Newport, and the Miriam hospitals. It will soon expand to Memorial and Landmark hospitals.