Dustin French, 29, had four drug overdoses in the span of a year. “I was dead on arrival to the hospital,” he said of his last heroin overdose, which happened in April. “I woke up … and I didn’t feel like myself. I could tell this time I was really dead.”
Now, he says, he’s 100 days clean. He lives with his girlfriend. And he has three sons: an 8-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old.
He credits his turnaround to a relationship he launched in the emergency department with a “peer recovery specialist” — someone who had herself struggled with addiction. She was there, he said, “when nobody else was.”
Stories like French’s have led policymakers — here in Rhode Island and in other states — to embrace a road to recovery led by people who have traveled it. It’s a growing effort to address the nation’s burgeoning opioid epidemic.
Here’s how the idea, still in its infancy, works: 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.
[For more of this story, written by Shefali Luthra, go to http://mhdaily.org/peer-recove...-addiction-epidemic/]