Peer Recovery Partners: Building Connection in MaineHealth Emergency Departments

a smiling young woman being filmed sitting at a desk
Home>Annual Report 2020>Stories>Peer Recovery Partners

The ongoing prevalence of substance use disorder within our communities underscores the need to provide treatment in innovative ways. In particular, the use of peer support in behavioral health treatment, including substance use disorder is a documented, evidence-based, practice that has grown considerably in the past several years. Peer support staff bring their unique experience to provide support that is based on advocacy, education and recovery partnership in a nonjudgmental fashion. They can share openly about their recovery and connect to patients in a way that a provider simply cannot.

For those struggling with substance use, being admitted to the emergency department can feel like a worst-case scenario. Between feelings of grief and failure, many patients are uncertain of where to turn for support following what is likely one of the scariest experiences of their lives.

Beyond the immediate critical care needed to stabilize a patient with substance use disorder in MaineHealth emergency departments, Maine Behavioral Healthcare has identified the need for a more personal support resource. A judgement-free confidant who can provide affirmation, compassion, and most importantly, a personal connection to someone who “gets it,” through this tumultuous time. The solution? A community of peers who have experienced substance use disorder and treatment firsthand.

Peer Recovery Partners

Noelle Hoey is one of a dozen Peer Recovery Partners throughout the MaineHealth system. She is stationed at Maine Medical Center and is proud of the impact she is already making in partnership with our substance use patients. She knows firsthand how isolating recovery can be. She’s been there, and she is equipped to share her knowledge and experience with those who are just beginning their journey.

“There are many small, yet impactful ways in which peer support touches the lives of the people we support. It is a unique service that can make all the difference for someone seeking or considering recovery,” she says of her role. “I feel honored to be able to use my own story of hope and strength to support others. I look forward to the future connections made possible by referrals from Maine Medical Center, and the role that I will play in their future success.”

Through the peer support program, Noelle has made a difference in the lives of countless individuals. Built upon honesty and confidentiality, Noelle has supported people as they recover from overdoses, maintain probation, and navigate struggles with abstinence and grief, help repair strained relationships and more.

The benefit of a peer support relationship is that it is a two-way street. Noelle explained that both individuals have the opportunity to learn from one another, and as overdose rates continue to increase in our communities, Peer Recovery Partners are more vital than ever.

Peer Support at MBH

Peer Support seeks to build on each person’s ability to self-manage their own challenges and/or extreme experiences as they move towards the life they want for themselves.

Peers know, from their lived experience, the value of talking about their struggles and learning from other people. They can also be a source of hope and inspiration to people who are struggling to find hope.

Learn More