Peers help with addiction recovery

    The federal government is holding up Philadelphia as a model in how to treat drug an alcohol addicts. Grants are being offered to other cities to duplicate the city’s approach.

    The federal government is holding up Philadelphia as a model in how to treat drug an alcohol addicts. Grants are being offered to other cities to duplicate the city’s approach.

    Philadelphia has a network of recovery and community centers that offer employment and housing assistance for people who’ve completed a 30- or 60-day treatment program.

    Roland Lamb directs the Office of Addiction Services at the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health. He says the city extends the care provided in an acute care program.

    Lamb: That for instance treats people, graduates them from a program, and bids them fond farewell. This system is designed to work with someone along a continuum of care back into the community and provide support for them in that community.

    Many of Philadelphia’s services are run by people who are in recovery themselves.

    Brooke Feldman leads the peer counselors at the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center. She says traditional acute-care programs offer people short-term intense treatment but few resources to build a new life. She says Philadelphia recognizes that addiction is a chronic problem that needs to be managed over many years.

    Feldman: So to be able to offer long term support services really increases the likelihood that somebody will be successful after they re-integrate into the community after receiving acute care.

    At the recovery center, newly sober clients learn computer skills and how to re-connect with friends and family. The city uses – certified peer counselors — who’ve been in recovery for several years – to guide new clients struggling to find housing and employment.

    Jack Stein leads service improvement at the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. He says practical help can help ward off relapses.

    Stein: That in turn means the less likely that you need to pay for expensive formalized treatment programs. And it’s also probably the less likely that an individual may get incarcerated. So if you add all the societal as well as the health related costs. This approach may actually be much less costly.

     

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.