Recovery Coaches Added to Worcester County Overdose Response Program

June 21, 2022

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lindsay Corcoran 508-368-7252 or 774-670-8811

Recovery Coaches Added to Worcester County Overdose Response Program

Second Year of Program Sees Continued Success

WORCESTER – Implementing a $1.2 million federal grant, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office has now assisted in adding recovery coaches to an ongoing overdose response program launched with the county’s 60 police departments in 2020.

The program, Critical Incident Management System (CIMS), has been used by local police since March 2020 to collect overdose data and respond to non-fatal overdose victims to offer services. Within 48 hours, a plainclothes police officer, often accompanied by a recovery coach, respond to the home of an overdose victim and offer a path to treatment.

In 2021, the first full year of the CIMS program, 60 percent of follow-up visits resulted in individuals either accepting services or reporting they were already seeking services.

While some police departments had protocols in place that involved responding with recovery coaches, the grant funding implemented by the District Attorney’s Office has added partnerships with three local community agencies so that all police departments in the county will have access to recovery coaches.

“We have seen how valuable recovery coaches are. They often have first-hand experience, which helps them relate to and better guide those who’ve recently suffered an overdose,” said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. “We are so grateful for the continued work of all our police departments and the agencies who agreed to help us support this program by providing access to dedicated recovery coaches. We know this will save lives.”

The $1.2 million in grant funding was awarded to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office in November 2020 by the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, which Mr. Early praised the local congressional delegation for supporting.

“It’s so important that we continue to expand our ability to respond to overdoses while supporting individuals on their personal journey to recovery,” said Congressman James P. McGovern. “This investment of $1.2 million in federal funding will allow the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office to add recovery coaches with important and unique firsthand experiences to support overdose survivors. This is a major step forward that will help save lives and address the root causes of substance use disorder, and I commend D.A. Early for securing this critical grant.”

While awaiting the release of funds, the office worked to form official partnerships with all the police departments and community agencies to launch the program. Partner agencies involved in the recovery coach program include Community Program for Addiction Recovery (CPAR), GAAMHA, and Family Continuity.

“I am proud to be a part of the effort to get to the root of the problem by offering treatment and providing recovery and support services to those who need it and want help,” said Worcester Police Department Chief Steven Sargent, whose department has partnered with Worcester Program for Addiction Recovery for the last 7 years. “I am thankful that this program is able to expand to even more police departments and communities.”

“I’m grateful for the partnership with the Worcester Police Department. We need to work with each other. We need police as much as they need us to help remove the stigma,” said Rebecca Zwicker, founder of the Community Program for Addiction Recovery.

“We’re very fortunate to have a progressive and forward-thinking D.A. like District Attorney Early who’s providing those in law enforcement with the tools we truly need working out in the field,” said Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau, speaking on behalf of the Central Mass. Chiefs of Police. “Law enforcement has a front-row seat to what’s going on out there. We have an obligation to use everything in our power to lessen the impact on our community. CIMS has been a valuable resource to my department.”

Uxbridge Police Chief Marc Montminy announced a program his department and the Blackstone Valley Opioid Task Force is funding to provide scholarships to those who wish to become recovery coaches, hoping to support a class of 20 to 30 new coaches.

“The opioid epidemic has forced law enforcement to challenge the traditional role of police. We’ve decided to be an entry point into the recovery system instead of the entry point to the criminal justice system,” Chief Montminy said.

“With this new project, we’ve been welcomed with open arms. It’s a very big change in terms of how law enforcement, behavioral health and substance use providers work together. This program is very unique in that way,” said Craig Maxim, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Operations at Family Continuity, which is providing recovery coaches to 26 communities through this grant.

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