Launched by The Providence Center in 2010, Anchor Recovery Community Centers are Rhode Island’s first and only community centers run by and dedicated to those living in recovery from substance use disorders. Focusing on a peer-to-peer support model, Anchor helps those living with substance use disorders maintain long-term recovery, improve social connectedness, improve self-sufficiency, and live healthier lives. By incorporating support and guidance from those with similar lived experiences and offering various different program options, Anchor encourages participants to succeed in their recovery in their own way. The Anchor “family” of programs has grown and now includes two new program initiatives, AnchorED and Anchor MORE. These programs aim to engage high-risk, high-need individuals and connect them to appropriate services that will treat their addiction, support them in their recovery, and help them engage the healthcare system in productive ways.
AnchorED dispatches recovery coaches to emergency departments statewide after someone has experienced an opioid overdose. Anchor MORE is a community outreach program, placing recovery coaches on the streets to connect with and engage individuals. Anchor MORE currently dispatches these teams of recovery coaches to areas in which individuals are using substances in public places. Anhcor MORE teams are also proactively dispatched to certain areas in the state by looking at overdose data and emergency services pick-up data. Both programs connect individuals with recovery coaches - trained peers with lived experience of addiction. Recovery coaches stay actively engaged with individuals after an encounter and connect them to treatment and recovery support services , including integrated health home teams, homeless assistance programs, employment assistance programs, primary care, and case management services, once the individual is comfortable.
Both AnchorED and Anchor MORE engage individuals where and when they need it most. Other communities have taken pro-active, supportive stands in response to the epidemic of opioid overdose (for example, Gloucester, Massachusetts). Our programs take that communitywide focus, incorporate lead roles for peers and recovery supports, and build in lessons from the “hot spotting” efforts of communities like Camden, New Jersey. Proactively dispatching Anchor MORE teams means that we are reaching individuals before they interact with the healthcare system. AnchorED recovery coaches meet individuals at a critical moment in their recovery journey. Both programs demonstrate that by incorporating peers with lived experiences as a part of the overall system of care, we can engage patients faster and in a more effective and efficient way while at the same time giving individuals hope that recovery is possible.
Individuals who are engaged with recovery support services begin to see recovery as a reality and feel supported in their journey. The more an individual can visualize their recovery, the less harmful behaviors they exhibit, therefore reducing the risky behaviors that lead to increased healthcare costs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction has long-lasting and high-cost impacts. Addiction is associated with many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, brain damage, seizures, respiratory disease, liver disease, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis B and C, as well as lethal diseases such as stroke and cancer. We know that when addicted individuals go without engagement, support, and treatment, the cost of their health care goes up tremendously. If we intervene prior to individuals becoming high-cost utilizers, like we do with AnchorED and Anchor MORE, we can connect them to vital treatment and services that will prevent future healthcare issues.
AnchorED is the first program of its kind in the nation. Anchor MORE is a unique combination of many programs that exist nationwide. Combining what has worked throughout the country has a allowed us to develop a program that fits the needs of our population. Proactively dispatching recovery coaches based on data being collected by hospitals, emergency responders, and the RI Department of Health, allows us to truly meet individuals where they are in the community and is something that we are not seeing done anywhere else. We are bringing recovery to the people and demonstrating in-person that recovery is possible. As persons in recovery themselves, recovery coaches provide one-on-one peer support that incorporates a personal connection that other healthcare resources cannot do. The positive outcomes we have seen so far for both programs is promising. Public safety and government officials are already seeing a change in their communities.
AnchorED was developed with the leadership, support, and resources of local, state, and federal government. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disbilities and Hospitals, and the recovery community were an integral part of developing and launching Anchor ED. Thomas Joyce, Associate Director of Anchor Recovery Community Center, and local medical providers were champions for AnchorED - advocating for its expansion from weekends only to 24/7 availability at all hospital emergency departments in the state. Recovery advocate Jonathan Goyer led the creation and implementation of Anchor MORE. Without collaboration and teamwork, neither of these programs would have been as successful as they are today. Recovery support services work. Implementing models that focus on and build upon the strengths of peers will create a better overall system of care for patients living with addiction.
Both programs are funded by the state and through a generous contribution by an individual donor with a passion for recovery support services. Funding is consistent and available for the next few years. To date, two Rhode Island insurers reimburse for recovery coach services. We are working with other insurers to include recovery coaching as a part of the covered services. An individual's insurance will cover the costs of many of the treatment and other services recovery coaches refer to. Our work with legislators has led to an increase in state funds made available for recovery support services each year. Additionally, the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Taskforce has included access to recovery support services as a part of its strategy recommendations. Our work and the work of our partners has demonstrated that recovery support services are a vital part of the continuum of care for patients living with addiction.
AnchorED and Anchor MORE can be easily replicated in other medical institutions and community-based organizations across the nation with collaboration among hospitals, community-based behavioral health organizations, and recovery community centers. When providers recognize that recovery includes every part of the patient, recovery coaches become an integral part of the overall system of care. Working with community agencies allows hospitals to benefit from the services of recovery coaches without the need to invest in training, orientation, and certification. The community benefits when recovery coaches are proactively dispatched to areas in most need. Buy-in from hospitals is critical to AnchorED's success. Support from local government and public safety is critical to Anchor MORE's success. Building trusting relationships and creating open lines of communication is the first step toward replicating these important programs.
To date, AnchorED recovery coaches have met over 400 individuals at local hospitals and have engaged 76% of those individuals in ongoing recovery support services post-discharge. AnchorED recovery coaches collect data on the patient's treatment and overdose history and conduct follow-up with each patient within 3 days. Since its inception in late 2015, Anchor MORE has had 864 conversations with individuals in the community about addiction, treatment, and recovery. 45 individuals have enrolled in Anchor’s programs since being connected through Anchor MORE and 248 mobile recovery coaching sessions have been completed. Seventy-one percent of clients have remained engaged with Anchor and Anchor MORE for at least thirty days post initial engagement. Anchor members complete member applications that collect data. Additionally, sign-up and follow-up surveys are completed by every Anchor member. These surveys collect information on the member's recovery journey.