BRISTOL - Wheeler Clinic is looking to hire an opioid addiction recovery peer coach using a state grant obtained by the Bristol Burlington Health District.
The $150,000, two-year grant is from the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The health district is working in partnership with Wheeler on the Bristol “How Can We Help” program, said Sabrina Trocchi, the clinic’s chief operating officer.
“The intent of the grant is to build on existing local community strategies and expand efforts in reducing opioid overdose and assist individuals who are struggling with opioid use in connecting to services and supports,” she said.
“Wheeler is currently in the process of recruiting and seeking to hire a fulltime recovery peer coach,” she said.
A recovery peer coach is someone who has personally experienced addiction and been successful in the recovery process, she said.
“It’s a very interesting approach. A peer coach’s message is very powerful. It’s instilled with hope and, combined with the successes that he or she has been able to achieve within their own recovery, it’s a very powerful way to engage individuals into treatment.”
In addition to encouraging addicts to get into “effective substance abuse treatment and recovery,” the recovery peer coach will be presenting community educational forums at social service agencies, churches, schools, etc., she said.
“The purpose is to reach individuals who either have a concern themselves or are concerned for a loved one, and providing them information on resources available in the community, and information on overdose prevention, including helping them in obtaining the FDA approved opioid reversal medication Narcan,” Trocchi said.
She said the recovery peer coach will have “a strong collaboration” with Bristol Hospital, in following up with people who show up at the emergency room with an opioid issue, helping them connect to community services once they’re released from the hospital.
Wheeler is based in Plainville, but the recovery peer coach will work out of the clinic’s local office, the Bristol Health and Wellness Center, at 10 N. Main St. Trocchi described it as “an integrated behavioral health and primary care location, which offers medication-assisted treatment, which is an evidence -based practice treatment for opioid and or alcohol addiction.”
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu praised the health district’s new director, Marco Palmieri, who has been on the job for about six months now, for obtaining the grant with the help of the city’s Opioid Task Force.
“We are going to tackle the opioid issue and make sure that the families suffering from that issue have some help and hopefully prevent other families from having to go through that as well,” she said.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.