WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) introduced on Thursday two pieces of bipartisan legislation that together will help improve addiction recovery efforts and prevent opioid overdoses. The Recovery COACH Act would help expand access to recovery coaches for Americans who are struggling with addiction and embarking on the road to recovery. The Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Departments Act would provide hospital emergency departments with guidance and funding to treat overdose patients and help put them on the path to recovery.

Murphy introduced these bills after hearing directly from first responders and families in Connecticut about the effectiveness of using recovery coaches to help folks struggling with addiction. Hospitals across Connecticut – including Danbury Hospital, Day Kimball Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Manchester Memorial Hospital, MidState Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and William W. Backus Hospital and Windham Hospital – currently provide recovery coaches, and the Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery (CCAR) trains recovery coaches all over the nation.

“People back home in Connecticut are crying out for us in Washington to do more to take on the tidal wave of addiction that is decimating our communities. There’s no single secret solution, but there are things we can do to make a real difference,” said Murphy. “The data and experts agree that people have more success overcoming addiction when they have the support of a recovery coach who’s been in their shoes and seen success. These two bipartisan bills I’m introducing with Senator Capito will allow those who have conquered recovery to help inspire others to get there too.”

“Treatment and recovery are two essential components of our fight against the opioid epidemic, but improvements can be made when it comes to both the access and effectiveness of these critical services,” Capito said. “The bipartisan legislation Senator Murphy and I have introduced will help strengthen, support, and expand recovery services across the country—particularly in states like West Virginia where they are needed most. Together, these bipartisan bills will not only provide better, more immediate help to those struggling with addiction, but they will also help those individuals work toward a brighter, healthier, drug-free future.”

Recovery Coaches Offer Addiction Counseling & Healing (COACH) Act 

The Recovery COACH Act provides states with grants to ensure those struggling with substance use disorder have access to specially trained coaches in the emergency department who can serve as a mentor, provide insight and encouragement, support for families, and help patients navigate treatment options. Certified recovery coaches will each have personal experience with substance use and recovery, and will be located in areas with the greatest need within a state. The President’s Commission on combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis and the National Governors Association recommends the use of recovery coaches. 

More information on the Recovery COACH Act is available here.

Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Departments Act

In March 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) reported that emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017. Since individuals who have overdosed are more likely to do so again, the CDC recognized that actions can be taken in EDs to try to prevent future overdoses and help patients access treatment resources.  The Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Departments Act would help prevent repeated opioid overdoses by requiring the development of protocols for discharging patients who are treated for a drug overdose and enhancing the integration and coordination of care and treatment options for individuals with a substance use disorder after they are discharged. It will also provide competitive grants for emergency departments—especially those in areas with high overdose rates or in rural areas—to develop best practices, increase the availability and access of medication-assisted treatment, establish integrated models of care, and hire recovery coaches, counselors, social workers and other professionals specializing in the treatment of substance abuse disorder. 

More information on the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Departments Act is available here.