Congressional Staff Briefing on Advancing Addiction Recovery Supports
On Monday, the Addiction Policy Forum hosted a briefing entitled “Strategies for Advancing Recovery Supports Nationwide” for Congressional staff on Capitol Hill. Panelists spoke about innovative recovery programs currently being implemented in states and localities that have shown promising results, including: community recovery support programs, sober living activities, recovery coaching in emergency rooms, family peer support, and jail-based peer support models and diversion programs.
- Community Recovery Support Programs: Patty McCarthy Metcalf of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), a National Council Hill Day partner, described recovery community organizations (RCOs) and their role in helping individuals sustain their recovery. RCOs are typically peer-led organizations that carry out recovery-focused policy advocacy activities, community education and outreach programs, and often provide peer-based recovery support services. Faces and Voices is trying to grow a nationwide network of RCOs through the Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO).
- Jail-based Peer Support and Diversion Programs: John Shinholser of the McShin Foundation and Elizabeth Pyke of the National Criminal Justice Association both focused on programs that reduce the number of individuals with substance use disorders in jails and prisons. Mr. Shinholser explained how his foundation provides peer-based recovery services in jails across the country, followed by Ms. Pyke who discussed how states are breaking down silos between health care and criminal justice to implement diversion programs to prevent and reduce incarceration for people with addictions.
- Recovery Coaching in Emergency Rooms: Michelle Harter and George O’Toole outlined Anchor Recovery’s AnchorED program which sends trained peer recovery support specialists to hospital emergency departments to engage patients who have experienced a drug overdose in treatment and recovery support services. The AnchorED program operates in all 12 of Rhode Island’s hospitals and has seen a total of 1,400 patients thus far.
- Family Peer Support: Rich Jones, Executive Director of FAVOR–Greenville, emphasized the importance of providing family members guidance to support their family member in recovery. FAVOR–Greenville provides families with a variety of resources such as family support groups, recovery family coaching, and information, referral, and intervention services.
- Sober Living: Scott Strode of Phoenix Multisport in Denver, Colorado shared how his organization offers a wide variety of sober, athletic activities such as climbing, hiking, running, swimming, road and mountain biking to help individuals in recovery build self-confidence and find a sober social network.
Jessica Nickel, Executive Director of the Addiction Policy Forum, ended the panel discussion by putting the day’s topic, recovery support services, in the context of the recently enacted Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). In CARA, recovery support services are one of six key elements needed to address the opioid addiction crisis. Nickel said that all 6 elements (prevention, treatment, overdose reversal, recovery, law enforcement and criminal justice reform) are essential for individuals living with and in recovery from addiction to have access to a full continuum of care.