TITUSVILLE – When someone is traveling a dark and dangerous road, an experienced guide can make the difference between tragedy - or arriving safely.
For people on the ever-challenging path of recovery from mental health diagnosis or addictions, their Parrish Healthcare “guides” – members of Parrish’s Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) Network - are valuable members of a team of caregivers working together to help people in crisis reclaim their lives and return them to their families.
“The path to recovery is made easier when a person walking it knows they’re not alone, and that with them is someone who has shared experiences and has recovered from them,” said Lara Chicone, LCSW Parrish Healthcare behavioral health navigator and peer recovery program coordinator.
“Our mission at Parrish is ‘healing experiences for everyone all the time,” Chicone added. “The Peer Recovery Specialist Network is an extraordinarily valuable help for people who are searching for a way out of the situation in which they find themselves.”
Born from a Parrish Community Health Partnership and Circles of Care collaboration, the PRS network members are specially trained to use experience, knowledge, and care to help others overcome what team members have faced.
A case study: an individual in their late 50’s who had worked all their life with their hands, developed severe joint pain and couldn’t continue doing the work they love. Subsequently diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, this person experimented with cocaine. Having opened that door, what followed was a descent into heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine addiction. In just one year, this individual suffered several overdoses resulting in hospitalizations: two were within 24 hours of each other. Death was a distinct possibility.
Despite several attempts at rehabilitation, sobriety remained elusive. The individual was referred to Parrish’s Peer Recovery Specialist Program. Though initially declining services, they received education, support and encouragement – and an awareness of the peer recovery program. After an overdose nearly resulted in death and another overdose killed a close friend, this person engaged with the peer recovery team. As of this moment, it’s the longest period of recovery this individual has experienced.
Mental health and addiction disorders impact 47% of the North Brevard Community and represents one of the top social determinants of health priorities according the Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Parrish Healthcare. In fact, the CDC recently released a report that states 2021 was a record year for overdose deaths with an estimated 107,622, an increase of 15% from the previous year.
Behind every statistic, there’s a face, a name, and a story. Most people undergoing these trials don’t want to be in them. In cases of addiction, it is often a gradual yet unrelenting decline until they find themselves in a position they can’t get out of. That was true in this person’s case, and as an organization, it’s wonderful to be standing beside this individual in this fight, a fight that’s being won.
Mental health conditions present a different set of priorities and approaches. However, whether it’s mental health or addiction, the goal is the same: recovery.
“As a society, community and as human beings, we must work together to provide compassionate care and services to reduce the amount of deaths and suffering that addiction causes” said Chicone. “Together, Parrish Medical Center and Circles of Care are using the Peer Recovery Specialist program on our mission to healing and saving lives. It can be a long road, and there are no guarantees. But we are seeing lives change all of the time.”