A drug abuse program that was established earlier this year in Youngstown, Ohio has been benefiting patients’ recovery outcomes through peer support.
The program features a peer-support team is composed of individuals who have been going through the path of recovery for several years and can assist community members who have substance use disorders and are just getting started in a journey to sobriety.
The drug abuse program was established by the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley when Mercy Health professionals and other community members noticed a gap in treatment for locals who have been diagnosed with substance use disorders.
The professionals connect with the patients of the drug abuse program about what feels like to go through an inpatient addiction treatment program or a drug detox program while emphasizing that they have been able to fully recover and have better lives.
The Youngstown program features a director that manages the operations of the program as well as seven other staff members. The peer-support team initiates the program by having in-depth conversations about their personal struggles with each one of the patients to make them feel comfortable.
The representatives of the program explained that each patient is unique and will need to have a different set of objectives outline for them.
Each patient now goes through a screening process. Depending on how the screening process is, a member of the support team will be notified and have a meeting with that patient, if he or she is willing.
They added that the drug abuse program also accepts referrals from outside the hospital and that the team also provides support to other needs that the patients may have, from clothing to food.
A number of peer-reviewed studies have shown that addiction treatment retention is boosted by peer support as well as patients’ overall experience.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also reported that there are additional positive outcomes associated with peer support in addiction treatment, such as increased stability, reduced involvement in criminal activity, relapse rates and use of emergency department services utilization.
In recent years, a number of peer-recovery workers were able to join the program because of support coming from federal funding. About two years ago, Ohio received a total of $26 million to implement measures that could curb the opioid epidemic from the 21st Century Cures Act signed by former President Barack Obama.
In order to launch more programs that feature peer recovery, the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board applied to receive a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Last year, the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board was the recipient of a $140,000 grant.
The funding was then matched by the Behavioral Health Institute at Mercy Health Foundation. This year, the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board received an additional $146,000, which the foundation plans to fully match once again.