‘Recovery Coaches’ Help Heroin Addicts Stay Clean

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NPR reports on the growing use of “recovery coaches” for people trying to quit a drug habit. They show patients “how to manage their emotions,” says Kristoph Pydynkowski, who works as a coach in a pilot project on Cape Cod. He says he helps recovering addicts with practical things — “how to fill out job applications, how to go to meetings, how to take care of themselves, how to go back to school.” Pydynkowski, a former heroin addict, describes himself as a “cheerleader, a beacon of hope.”

New York and Tennessee pay for peer coaches to help treat addiction through Medicaid. Massachusetts is considering joining them as Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration moves forward with two dozen initiatives aimed at curbing a surge in addiction to heroin and other opiates. The use of coaches is built on the idea that addiction is a disease that patients will deal for life, far beyond whatever time they spend in rehab. About half of heroin addicts who quit the drug relapse within the first year.

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