Former Addicts Helping Addicts in the ER

Saint Louis

Innovative program offers help to addicts in the ER

Faced with an ongoing overdose crisis, participants in the Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis asked: “How can we work together to get this under control?”

The network is a consortium of health providers, leaders, advocates and consumers who work together to address barriers to mental health services.

Looking across the nation for inspiration, they found a model in Rhode Island, where a drug treatment program sent a peer to meet patients in emergency rooms.

They also found research — a 2015 study from Yale that showed patients given medication in emergency rooms to reduce withdrawal symptoms were twice as likely than others to be in a treatment program 30 days later.

By combining both approaches, project EPICC — Engaging Patients in Care Coordination – was born and began a test run in December at Barnes-Jewish Hospital with a $500,000 state grant.

At several St. Louis hospitals, two recovery coaches were on call to meet with a patient at any time and connect them to free care at two addiction treatment programs.

The results so far have been very encouraging. Karl Maness, a former addict, explains how the patients feel comfortable around him. “Once they know I’m an addict, they open up,” he said. “I know how to talk to them. They’re my people. They’re me.”

If you are struggling with addiction, treatment is available. Don’t wait any longer to ask for help.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction?

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To learn more details about the EPICC program in St. Louis, click here.

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