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Coincidence of Peer Recovery Coaching with Opioid Overdose Hot Spots in Flint, Michigan

Authors: Richard Sadler*, Michigan State University, Leah Maschino, Project Administrator, Michigan State University, Julia Felton, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, Zachary Buchalski, Data Analyst, Michigan State University, Alan Harris, GIS Analyst, Michigan State University, Debra Furr-Holden, C.S. Mott Endowed Professor, Michigan State University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: opioids, prevention, GIS
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the United States, prevention and treatment services continue to expand. One newer mechanism for helping people on a path to recovery is the use of peer recovery coaches. These coaches complete specialized training, and provide emotional and informational support to individuals with substance use disorders, assisting individuals in setting recovery goals, finding sober housing, making new friends, and improving job skills. Research has demonstrated their effectiveness at improving housing stability and reducing incidence of overdose and relapse. In Michigan, the policy formalizing this role was only introduced in 2006, and there remains a dearth of research examining their role in reducing overdoses in a geographic context. Little is known about where peer recovery coaching is offered, or whether they have an impact on clustering of opioid overdose sites within communities. In this study, we use emerging hot spot analysis to identify spatial clusters and temporal patterns in overdoses in Flint, Michigan, and link this data with the locations of peer recovery coaching and related services for supporting recovery from substance use disorders. Results suggest a lack of coincidence between where peer recovery coaching is offered and where overdose rates are highest. Findings are being used in connection with the NIMHD-funded Strengthening Flint Families Program to advocate for improved service delivery in these underserved neighborhoods.

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