Peer Recovery Coaches Provide Support and Assistance in Emergency Departments to Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

News Release

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2018

Media Contact:
Ben Truman
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
[Additional media contacts follow at end]


Peer Recovery Coaches Provide Support and Assistance in Emergency Departments to Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

BURLINGTON – A program in Bennington, Chittenden and Washington Counties sends recovery coaches from community recovery centers to the emergency departments of several of the state’s largest hospitals. Their job – to meet with people who come in due to an overdose or other substance-related issue and help them to move from crisis to recovery.

The Peer Recovery Coaches in the Emergency Department Program was introduced by the Department of Health in close collaboration with three of the state’s Turning Point Centers, their area hospitals and the Vermont Recovery Network. The partners are the Turning Point Centers of Bennington, Chittenden County and Central Vermont. The participating hospitals are Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, University of Vermont Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center. The Central Vermont and Chittenden locations launched their programs at the beginning of July 2018, with the Bennington location starting in August.

“This innovative effort takes recovery intervention to a new level,” said Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD. “By being there when the moment of need is greatest, the recovery coaches play a critical role in helping individuals avoid another overdose and engage in treatment.”

People who arrive at a hospital emergency department experiencing an opioid overdose or other substance-related issue are connected then and there with a peer recovery coach. Peer coaches are certified and trained at the Recovery Coach Academy, and many are in successful recovery from their own substance-related challenges. The recovery coaches work with the individuals both during the hospital visit and after discharge, helping them find appropriate treatment services and recovery supports. The coaches also provide guidance on obtaining and using naloxone, and can assist with housing and other needs.

“Recovery from substance use disorder is not a simple or straight path,” said Dr. Levine. “Access and support are key. These coaches can make the difference in people being able to begin, succeed and maintain their recovery.”

As of August 31, recovery coaches have seen 162 individuals. Most of the areas of concern were alcohol related, followed by opioids and cocaine.

The program is funded by a $643,500 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Vermont Recovery Network provides project coordination, implementation and reporting, with monitoring from the Health Department.

The current program runs through early 2019. Health officials said that early results are promising, and they plan to continue the project, expanding into at least three additional communities by mid-2019.

Wherever you are in Vermont, here’s where you can get help for alcohol or drug addiction:

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Additional Media Contacts:

Bennington County

Turning Point Center of Bennington
Kenneth Sigsbury, Director
465 Main Street
Bennington, VT 05201

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
Ray Smith
Marketing and Communications

Chittenden County

Turning Point Center of Chittenden County
Gary De Carolis, Executive Director
191 Bank Street, Suite 200
Burlington, VT 05401

University of Vermont Medical Center
Annie Mackin
Marketing and Communications

Washington County

Turning Point Center of Central Vermont
Robert D. Purvis, Executive Director
489 N. Main St.
P.O. Box 887
Barre, VT 05641

Central Vermont Medical Center
Lynn Adamo
Marketing and Communications

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