When someone experiences an opioid overdose (heroin /opiate pain pills) and is revived and transported to a local hospital emergency department, who better for them to speak to at this very vulnerable moment than someone in recovery, themselves? Having a peer recovery coach available when one may be the most willing to ask for help was the idea behind a new state grant. The Center for Prevention and Counseling (CFPC) was recently awarded the “Opioid Overdose Recovery Program” grant or, “OORP” as it is referred to. This program has shown excellent results in other New Jersey counties where the grant has been previously introduced in the last few years, all through funding provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services of the State of New Jersey.
CFPC will implement OORP in Sussex County working in tandem with local health care partners, law enforcement and trained recovery specialists beginning immediately. Atlantic Health’s Newton Medical Center has been working closely with CFPC staff to accommodate OORP Recovery Specialists within the hospital’s Emergency Department. CFPC Recovery Support Professionals, Annmarie Shafer, Katie Calvacca and Kelly LaBar have been recruiting, interviewing and training selected Recovery Peers who must then adhere to Newton Medical Center’s volunteer program criteria in order to be accepted to work under this program. Some Recovery Specialists were recruited from the team of volunteer recovery coaches with the CLEAR program. All coaches have completed the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy’s 30-hour training with CFPC as well as a scheduled 18-hour hospital training with supervision further provided from CFPC staff.
The Recovery Specialists can play a critical role in engaging overdose reversed patients, helping them to agree to enter a treatment program also providing invaluable support to families and friends of the patient as well. The Recovery Specialists are individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorder, themselves. This qualification is important as it will enable them to more readily form a relationship with overdose reversed patients. Once the survivor agrees to enter a recovery program, a Patient Navigator will step in to link individuals to appropriate treatment and recovery support services and follow up with them to ensure smooth transitions between levels of care.
Recovery specialists will continue to maintain contact with individuals for a minimum of 8-weeks, providing non-clinical peer support through a recovery coaching model. The Patient Navigator will facilitate transitions from detox, treatment, aftercare, assisting with referrals and lending a warm hand off between providers. Analysis of naloxone administration in Sussex County has shown that overdoses are occurring every day of the week and CFPC is dedicated to providing on call coverage of Recovery Specialist 24/7 at Newton Medical Center. The dedicated team of coaches under the OORP program at CFPC in Sussex County are ready, waiting and hoping to be a reason that someone struggling with addiction sees a more hopeful future in recovery.