The effects of COVID-19 have been widespread. Quarantines, job-loss, isolation, and other stressors have led to significant increases in opioid overdoses.
It is times like these when local programs like the Recovery Opioid Overdose Team (ROOT) are essential. And despite all of the chaos COVID-19 has brought, Home of New Vision and its partner organizations are excited to announce an expansion of the ROOT program.
Since 2017, Home of New Vision and Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (WCCMH), have been providing peer recovery services to overdose survivors in local emergency departments. Whenever a law enforcement officer in the county was dispatched to a non-fatal opiate overdose, the officer would administer Naloxone to reverse the overdose and report it to WCCMH’s 24-hour access line. WCCMH then dispatched one of Home of New Vision’s Peer Recovery Coaches to the hospital where the patient was being taken.
From there Recovery Coaches were able to meet with the person and talk about the events that brought them to the emergency department. Coaches were equipped to educate patients on harm reduction techniques for safer use, provide connections to community resources, or help access treatment when patients were ready. If a patient welcomes the support, Recovery Coaches will provide services for the next 90 days.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of utilizing Peer Recovery Coaches in situations like these is the fact that the Recovery Coach can provide non-judgmental support that often works to ease the internalized stigma a person may have from overdosing. They are able to better connect with patients and begin a conversation that normally wouldn’t happen.
In early 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services sought proposals to better engage overdose patients through community outreach. Home of New Vision submitted a proposal, in collaboration with Community Mental Health, the Washtenaw Sheriff’s Office, Huron Valley Ambulance, and the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing, that builds on the existing ROOT program.
This proposal was granted funding and these organizations have already begun implementing this service expansion. Titled “ROOT+” this program became fully operational in 2021.
In this expanded program, Recovery Coaches will still be dispatched to local emergency departments to respond to overdose calls. With the new grant, a team of recovery coaches, family supports, and community members, will be able to engage further with overdose survivors and their loved ones at their home 48 – 72 hours after their overdose.
“We’re excited to be able to reach more overdose survivors by expanding the program to include community outreach to opioid overdose survivor’s homes,” says Brianna Dobbs, Home of New Vision’s ROOT coordinator.
“An opioid overdose affects not just the individual, but the community as a whole. Home of New Vision aims to unite the community in the battle against the opioid epidemic in Washtenaw County by utilizing local volunteers, such as community and faith-based leaders, combined with a recovery coach and case manager to form the ROOT+ Team.”
Additionally, the ROOT+ program will also be hosting community naloxone events to distribute the overdose antidote on a larger scale.
While the expansion of the program is fully operational, the ROOT program is still looking for more community members of family support professionals to join ROOT’s outreach team.
If you wish to learn more, please contact Brianna Dobbs at email@example.com.
To find out where future naloxone distribution events will be held, please go to www.facebook.com/washtenawrecovery.