St. Louis ERs bring in ex-addicts to help overdose patients

Emergency room staff at St. Louis area hospitals are bringing in recovered addicts to serve as "recovery coaches" for opioid overdose patients, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The recovery coaches connect patients to outpatient addiction treatment programs, while ER physicians administer drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms and provide patients a short prescription until they enter treatment.

The effort aims to show patients recovery is possible and aims to help them open up with someone who has struggled with substance abuse. About 75 patients agree to meet with a coach each month.

In Missouri, nine St. Louis hospitals and St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties now participate in the program. Five coaches working with five treatment programs are on call.

The effort received a $550,000 grant for next year, which pays for the coaches and administrative costs to track outcomes, according to the report. Treatment for Missouri residents referred through the project is covered through a statewide budget of $5 million a year for the next two years.

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