Ex-Addicts Trained as Peer Advocates


To Help New Yorkers Struggling With Addiction

By Erin Durkin

Original Source: www.nydailynews.com

The city is training former drug and alcohol abusers to help New Yorkers struggling with the same demons.

The new “peer advocate” program prepares New Yorkers who have kicked substance abuse disorders, or whose family members have struggled with addiction, to land jobs in hospitals and treatment centers.

“For those struggling with substance misuse, the support and understanding of people who have gone through recovery can make all the difference,” said city First Lady Chirlane McCray, who has made mental health and substance abuse her key issues.

“This program will add counselors in all of the five boroughs for those seeking rehabilitation from substance misuse, and provide these counselors with the opportunity to give back to their brothers and sisters in need.”

The city Small Business Services Department is spending $213,200 on a pilot program that will train two classes of advocates to take a state-approved certification exam. There are 21 people in the first class, now going through the three-month training.

Joann Fong, 62, of Manhattan, who has kicked heroin and Xanax habits, said she’s looking forward to coaching patients dealing with similar troubles.

“I remember how acutely painful it was, psychologically and physically, to be under the influence, where drugs were constantly seducing you to return despite the negative consequences,” she said. “I can relate to the emotional despair. I have tried and tested skills to get out of that.”

The advocates will help patients develop recovery plans, show them effective coping skills, and accompany them to court dates or other meetings. The city plans to expand the push if the pilot program is successful.

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