(AP) Virginia is enlisting recovering addicts in its battle against the opioid epidemic.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Sunday that more than 1,000 peer recovery specialists have been trained by the state’s Office of Recovery Services. They’re beginning to work in opioid treatment centers, emergency rooms and recovery centers.
Experts say recovering addicts can connect with people battling addiction in ways that clinicians can’t. The shared experience gives these recovery specialists a better chance to gain trust.
The peer counseling concept isn’t new. But it is gaining institutional legitimacy as part of comprehensive treatment for addiction. Medicaid reimbursement for addiction treatment is in part driving the demand for peer specialists.
Drug overdoses have claimed more than 9,500 lives in Virginia since 2007. Many of the deaths were opioid-related.