Sometimes simple actions are powerful in the fight against opioid addiction. Across the US, programs meant to help people with substance abuse disorders have cropped up on a local level. One such way is through outreach programs in some of the areas where opioid addiction rages. An innovative addiction outreach program in Dover, New Hampshire reaches out to people, both clean and trying to get clean, and asks them how they’re doing. The program, aptly named the Telephone Recovery Support service (TRSS), says they make over 200 phone calls every week to support people who can’t make it to meetings or are unable to get a bed in treatment.
TRSS volunteers make phone calls to people who can’t get out to one of the recovery centers or other meetings with their peers. Some people who can’t get out are homebound for legal reasons, while others may be paralyzed by anxiety. Some may not be able to get across town. There are people from all walks of life who need support but can’t get it easily. The phone calls are meant to fill a gap for these people. They ask them how they are doing and talk about everyday challenges. The eventual goal is to able to help people overcome these obstacles and make their way to one of the SOS Recovery Community Organization recovery centers.
In states outside of New Hampshire, recovery outreach is also a part of the plan to help address the opioid epidemic and prevent casualties. Peer recovery coaches are used in Rhode Island to reach people with substance abuse disorders when they’re most vulnerable. Peer recovery coaches go through training and certification to help their peers who are struggling with addiction. They help these individuals to prevent relapse and help them learn to plan for the future. They may need to plan for drug treatment or getting mental health evaluations. Either way, they have a person who reminds them that they’re not alone, and that’s something they can hang onto for the rest of their day.
Treatment is Still a Solution for Addiction
The RI Secretary of Health and Human Services, Eric Beane says that the goal of the recovery coach program is to prevent relapses and also to keep people out of jail, where there is no medication-assisted treatment. Both of these are admirable goals. Unfortunately, these programs can’t alone keep somebody clean and sober.
Treatment is considered to be the gold standard for substance abuse disorders. Many of the people who need these services are hanging by a thread, and often they’re on a waiting list for a treatment program.
The unspoken truth about these programs is that they can’t substitute for long-term treatment. People with a substance abuse disorder often need time to learn about their addiction and how to change their behavior.
The current federal government has done very little to help states fund more beds in more treatment centers, which is ultimately what most of addicted Americans need. Until then, having a friend to hold their hand or lend their ear is definitely something great.