New program in New London connects overdose victims to recovery coaches

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NEW LONDON -- Federal funding of $5.5 million, in each of the next two years, has spawned a new program, which sends recovery coaches to emergency departments in response to overdoses.

Hospitals in Manchester, Windham, Norwich and New London were chosen to roll out a new program because "This area is certainly one of the hardest areas hit in the state and that was some of the reason why we wanted to start here," said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

"It's one of the few jobs that I would do for free," said recovery coach, Jay Osborne.

Watch: Faces of the Opioid Crisis, a FOX61 Special 

He is one of the recovery coaches assigned to assist patients, who ask for help. In the several weeks since the program's roll out, nearly 50 patients have been steered toward recovery options.

"It's powerful," said Osborne. "I am actually privileged enough to watch people transform their lives and to see people, who are at their worst, become their best."

The key, the program administrators say, is engaging a patient within two hours of their arrival in the emergency department.

"Having that person to sit with you and be with you to make those phone calls to provide that support and encouragement is really crucial to people," said
former heroin addict Rebecca Allen, who is new of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

"All of these coaches have lived experience and they can say 'I have been in the same bed you are in right now," said Jennifer Chadukiewicz, of CCAR

Last week, a woman who said she lost her job and her family, as a result of addiction, came here to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and initially declined to enter treatment. But, after consulting with a recovery coach, she has changed her mind.

"She was waiting for us in the emergency room waiting room," said Osborne. "And, were able to not only get her into treatment, but actually transport her that very same morning,"

To keep up with the demand, more recovery coaches are expected to be hired within the next month.