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Peer Support for People Recently Incarcerated with Opioid Use Disorder

Dr. Peggy Swarbrick, Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies Associate Director, co-authored a recent paper describing a study about the Intensive Recovery Treatment Support Program (IRTS)[1] at Rutgers UBHC. The program provides support for people incarcerated in state prison with opioid use disorder, to assist them with transitioning successfully back to the community. Interviews with program participants were conducted at the time of release from prison and about four months later.

The study found that program participants valued the emotional and practical support of the program’s peer support specialists. As noted in a Rutgers news post about the study, “The participants reported the most effective peer health navigators were empathetic, open-minded and good listeners.” In addition, participants noted that “policy barriers to recovery and community reintegration presented challenges to meeting certain needs, such as housing, food, employment and access to timely medical and recovery services,” even with the help of the peer support specialist.

Read more at Rutgers University Research & Innovation News

Source: Enich, M., Treitler, P., Swarbrick, M., Belsky, L., Hills, M., & Crystal, S. (2023). Peer health navigation experiences before and after prison release among people with opioid use disorder. Psychiatric Services. Advance online ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.20220310

[1] https://impact.rutgers.edu/irts/