Context: The United States has witnessed a disproportionate rise in substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring mental health disorders, paired with housing instability, especially among racially minoritized communities. Traditional in-patient residential treatment programs for SUD have proven inconsistent in their effectiveness in preventing relapse and maintaining attrition among these patient populations. There is evidence showing that peer recovery programs led by individuals who have lived experience with SUD can increase social support and foster intrinsic motivation within participants to bolster their recovery. These peer recovery programs, when coupled with a standardized training program for peer recovery coaches, may be very efficacious at improving patient health outcomes, boosting performance on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national outcome measures (NOMs), and helping participants build an overall better quality of life.
Objectives: The goal of this study is to highlight the efficacy of a peer recovery program, the Minority Aids Initiative, in improving health outcomes and associated NOMs in men with SUD and/or co-occurring mental health disorder.
Methods: Participants received six months of peer recovery coaching from trained staff. Sessions were guided by the Manual for Recovery Coaching and focused on 10 different domains of recovery. Participants and coaches set long-term goals and created weekly action plans to work toward them. Standardized assessments (SAMHSA’s Government Performance and Results Act [GPRA] tool, Addiction Severity Index [ASI]) were administered by recovery coaches at intake and at the 6-month time point to evaluate participant progress. Analyses of participant recovery were carried out according to SAMHSA’s six NOMs and assessed the outcomes of the intervention and their significance.
Results: A total of 115 participants enrolled in the program over a 2-year period. Among them, 53 were eligible for 6-month follow-up interviews. In total, 321 sessions were held, with an average of three sessions per participant. Participants showed marked improvement across five of the six NOMs at the end of the 6-month course and across all ASI outcomes, with the exception of three in which participants reported an absence or few symptoms at intake.
Conclusions: Our study shows that participants receive benefits across nearly all NOM categories when paired with recovery coaches who are well trained in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) over a 6-month period. We see the following: a higher rate of abstinence; increased housing stability; lower health, behavioral, and social consequences; lower depression and anxiety; longer participant-recovery coach exposure time; and higher follow-up rates. We hope that our results can contribute to advancements and greater acceptance in the implementation of peer recovery coaching as well as an improvement in the lives of the communities affected by substance use.