FALMOUTH (CBS) – Many families caring for a loved one with an opioid addiction will tell you that one stay in a rehab facility rarely solves the problem. Relapses are common and heartbreaking.
Related: Opioid Addiction Recovery Resources
But a new approach is helping some addicts stay sober once they leave the safety and security of an inpatient facility.
Mike Riordan of Falmouth is one of those success stories. He has been clean for three years.
“I was just using drugs and was a shell of a person. I would have died on the street,” he said, recalling his life addicted to opioids.
Riordan credits his long-term recovery to Kevin Rosario, a recovery coach with the Gosnold Treatment Center.
“We are not sponsors,” Rosario told WBZ-TV. “We work on life stuff. We work on goals and management and keep people in line and going in the right direction that they want to go.”
Rosario, a recovering addict himself, met with Riordan on a regular basis and was available 24 hours a day when Riordan ended his stint in rehab.
Experts agree this can be the trickiest time for people in recovery.
“The patient comes out (of rehab) and they are super excited. They are doing a meeting every day, the gym, the counselors. They’re doing everything. But then a month goes by, now they’re going to work, they are going to less meetings, they drop therapy. We try to do an intervention to get them back on track before they go off course,” Rosario said.
Riordan credits Rosario with keeping him focused on his recovery and eventually helped him turn his experience into a job.
He was hired by Patrick Kent, the head of a program that staffs emergency departments, like the one at South Shore Hospital, with specialists who encourage addicts treated there to seek treatment.
According to Kent, Riordan’s personal experience made him a perfect fit for the job.
“Mike has the ability to connect with patients in a way that others just are not able to,” Kent said.
Riordan is convinced he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of a coach. Now his hope is that more people struggling with addiction have the same opportunity.
“Without access or resources, there’s a lot of good people whose lives are just thrown away and forgotten about. It’s important that everybody get a shot,” he said.
But access is the tricky part here.
Some help is available through the state to pay for recovery coaches, but the service is not covered by most private insurance plans.
Governor Charlie Baker was appointed by President Trump to a national panel on the opioid crisis. In an interview last month, he told WBZ that he was looking into post-rehab options, including coaches and how they could be used to help fight the epidemic.
This is the eighth piece in a series of WBZ-TV reports on confronting the opioid crisis in Massachusetts.