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Tennessee Recovery Navigators Celebrate Two Years

Program to connect people with addiction treatment has touched nearly 3,800 Tennesseans
Tuesday, September 01, 2020 | 09:10am

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Recovery Navigators are celebrating two successful years of connecting people who come into emergency rooms with treatment for substance use disorder.  Navigators are people with lived experience of addiction and at least two years in recovery who are able to use their history to relate to the patients they meet.

Since the program started in June 2018, the Tennessee Recovery Navigators have interfaced with 3,776 people in emergency rooms.  In state fiscal year 2020, 77 percent of the patients who met with a Navigator were placed in treatment. 

“Our Tennessee Recovery Navigators are true way-makers and chain-breakers,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.  “They are taking their lived experience of addiction and their new life in recovery and saying to thousands of people, ’Take my hand. I will show you the way.’”

In early 2018, state funding for the program was appropriated to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as a part of the Tennessee Together program to address opioid addiction.  With the initial success of the program, additional funding has been secured through grants from the Office of Criminal Justice Programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Tennessee Department of Health.

Navigators are employed by eight community agencies spread across the state.  In two years, the reach of the program has grown to 38 hospitals in 21 Tennessee Counties.  When it began, the program focused on emergency room patients who survived an opioid overdose.  As it grew, the program’s scope expanded to include people presenting in active withdrawal or with a primary substance use disorder.

“The growth and success of the Tennessee Recovery Navigators is a testament to the passion that each one of them shows for the work.  Their embodiment of resiliency and recovery has not only changed lives through treatment, it has influenced opinions, changed minds, and reduced the stigma surrounding addiction,“ said Jessica Ivey, LMSW, TDMHSAS Director of Strategic Initiatives.

A new report published by TDMHSAS details successes of the TN Recovery Navigator program, includes testimonials, and shows data collected.  To view the report or to learn more about the program, visit this link: