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Many Hospitals Hiring Peer Recovery Coaches to Help Addicts

An initiative in several states last year brought peer recovery coaches—people who have personal experience with alcohol and/or drug addiction—into hospital emergency rooms (ERs) to help curb the growing rate of drug overdoses. 


Last summer, Rhode Island began a program “assigning a peer coach to every hospital emergency department and footing the bill,” according to CNN (Luthra, 2016). At the time there were also experimental programs in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Delaware. In Rhode Island, the program worked like this:


During overdose patients’ emergency department stays, they are introduced to a “peer recovery coach.” Patients trust these coaches, with whom they share common experiences. Coaches then stay in touch after discharge, meeting patients regularly to help navigate the path toward sobriety and resolve issues such as housing, food stamp applications, court obligations or job searches (Luthra, 2016).


“I’ve lived it, and I know the struggle when I see these people,” said Charlie Stewart, a peer support coach at Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus, Ohio (Honig, 2017). Before Mount Carmel West hired Stewart, the ER would see many patients coming in for overdose after overdose. “Either they would be discharged because there’s nothing more that we can do for them, or they would be discharged because they’ve decide they’re going to leave and there’s nothing we can do to keep them here,” stated Brian Pearson, the regional director of outreach at the hospital (Honig, 2017). 


Recently, and in only four months, “ten people have entered long-term treatment” at Mount Carmel West due to their program and peer support coach Stewart (Gaita, 2017).












Gaita, P. (2017). Hospitals are hiring people in recovery to support patients battling addiction. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/hospitals-are-hiring-people-recovery-support-patients-battling-addiction
Honig, E. (2017). To fight drug addiction, hospitals hire recovering addicts. Retrieved from https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/to-fight-drug-addiction-hospitals-hire-recovering-addicts
Luthra, S. (2016). Could peer-recovery coaches help fight drug addiction epidemic? Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/24/health/peer-recovery-coaches-drug-addition-epidemic/index.html