FINDING HOPE: Grant will fund local "recovery coaches" to help patients after drug overdoses

BOISE - A new pilot program in the Treasure Valley is connecting opioid overdose patients with recovery coaches immediately following an OD. The coaches - sent straight to the E.R. - are well-versed on available treatment programs in the Treasure Valley, offering personalized options to each patient to help them get clean.

Recovery United, which operates multiple addiction recovery centers across the state, recently received a $50,000 grant to help fund the new intervention program with the simple goal of saving lives.

According to the CDC, more than 100 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

"We want to help decrease that number," Recovery United Operations Manager Becca Lee said. "We focus on where you're going in the future; there's no shame in this, it's not to put anyone down. It's not a moral failing."

The concept isn't new: Connect people struggling with addiction with available options to get clean. The coaches aim provide comfort on a personal level.

"It speaks volumes when someone's there with you and they care and they want you to succeed," Lee said. "I think that that's going to be the hugest thing that's going to make this pilot project successful."

The main goal is to stop the cycle of opioid misuse before it turns fatal.

"We've seen individuals go into the hospital on an overdose, and they are released into a cab and sent on their way," Lee said. "But what happens is, you just see them right back in that cycle again abusing and then utilizing the emergency room's resources."

The $50,000 grant allows four trained recovery coaches to connect addicts seeking sobriety with options on a local level, catered to the patient's goals.

"That's the most important part of a recovery coach's role is, 'What does that look like to you?'" Lee said. "We don't dictate what that looks like. Some people are going to find support from their churches, some people are going to find support from 12 step programs, some people are going to want to do an inpatient and then move to an outpatient and what that recovery coach is going to do is help work through that entire process to help get them to where they want to go."

And if you think the coaches couldn't possibly understand what those patients are going through, think again.

"They're trained as recovery coaches but they are people who have been through what's going on right now with these people in emergency rooms," Wade Beus of Recovery United said. "They  can trust them because they're not talking to someone who learned from a textbook, they're talking to someone who has been through what they're going through and someone who can show them the light at the end of the tunnel."

In about six months, Recovery United plans to share their data with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation Foundation, who funded the grant, and if it shows to be successful, they hope to help fund a permanent program that could be implemented into communities across the state.

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