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Peer recovery coach program offers addicts a second chance to help others

WOODBRIDGE — Twenty residents who are in opioid recovery are essentially getting a second chance in life, serving as peer recovery coaches for others.

“After experimenting with an outside service provider when we started, we decided to run the program ourselves,” Mayor John E. McCormac said. “Today, we have hired nearly 20 township residents, who are in recovery themselves, as coaches.”

McCormac said the program, under the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Nolan, is in five different hospitals in the area and have shared services agreements in eight different Middlesex County municipalities, including Edison and Old Bridge.

“Our addiction coaches reach out to those who have overdosed, or in many cases, to those who just indicate a need for help,” he said. “They help find the person treatment either as a resident or outpatient and they then become an advisor and mentor and more importantly, a friend, to those suffering from addiction.”

Nolan has a doctorate in neuroscience and heads the division of addiction services in the township’s health department. She and her team run a social night for those in recovery and also sessions for the families of people in recovery.

“I have had the opportunity to attend some of these meetings and people in our township truly appreciate the efforts of our team,” McCormac said, adding that there is nothing like hearing a mother say someone has helped save her child’s life.

McCormac said the township is also working with other businesses in Woodbridge to encourage companies to hire those in recovery.

“People deserve a second chance and if we can help them get that chance, then we are all-in,” he said.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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