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Opioid Quick Response Team brings recovery to people's homes

The team formed earlier this month. It consists of EMS personnel, peer-recovery coaches, and mental health specialists.

Posted: Dec. 26, 2018 6:08 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County's first Opioid Quick Response Team is taking recovery treatment straight to people's homes.

The team formed earlier this month. It consists of EMS personnel, peer-recovery coaches, and mental health specialists.

"We take one EMT and one certified addictions peer support, go out to their houses and knock on the door and if we are well received then we do a wellness check and then the peers take over and talk to them about their lived experience," said Jason Padgett, one of the main organizers of the team.

The team then continues to help the person through the sometime daunting steps of early recovery.

"We want to make sure they get into the world of recovery," said Olanda Torres, Director of Mental Health Navigator Services at Mental Health America.

It's another way to let people fighting addiction know that they are not alone in their battle.

"I like the fact that this not only meets them where they are, gives them options that they may buy into for treatment, but it also then continues to follow them and help them plug into further options,” said Padgett.

On their second day of operation, they were able to help a woman find treatment. They meet every Tuesday and Thursday to go out and help the community.

Nathaniel Metz is the President of Phoenix Paramedics. The EMT crew was brought on board by Padgett to help bring the medical assistant element to the team. He said he sees a negative cycle of EMT’s coming to revive people, only to have that same person overdose again and need saving again.

"With us pairing up with peer support groups, we're able to break that cycle and give people the help that they need rather than seeing them consistently week after week,” he said.

Metz said he has worked in the EMS industry for 12 years, and that addiction and overdose have been a constant occurrence during his tenure.

“As an EMS provider, we see this in our community everyday,” he said. “We see these people in their homes, we see what it does to families, and we see people who want to get help but just can’t.”

That’s where the Peer Recovery Coaches step in. Monica Allen was recently certified at Lafayette’s first Peer Recovery Coach training. But she is also a Certified Recovery Specialist, meaning she has experienced addiction and has overcome it.

"You show people that you can be where they are at right now and you can do so much better and to show them and encourage them,” she said.

She said she has been sober for seven years and is currently pursuing her masters degree in clinical addictions counseling. She has knowledge of treatment options and of the different pathways to recovery.

"We're here to help you, walk side by side with you to get you recovery whatever way that looks like for you because there is no one way to recovery,” she said.

The final element of the team is Mental Health Navigator Services. Torres said they help people overcome the barriers of early recovery.

"It can be very overwhelming especially navigating the mental health and substance use services in our area," she said.

She said a big barrier is figuring out what the person’s insurance will cover, or what the options are for someone who doesn’t have insurance. She said this is a process that can take hours, but they stay by the person’s side every step of the way.

“Individuals who have the ability to do something should and I think that’s a responsibility,” said Metz.

With all these forces coming together, the team wants to spread the message that there are people who care.

"They don't have to go through this alone and there are people out there that care and there's a community out there that is there to support them," said Torres.

Padgett said he hopes to expand the team to be more than just two days a week in the future.

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