Innovative Program Helps Many Massachusetts Residents Recover from Opioids

Access to Recovery (ATR), a program that supports individuals in early recovery from opioids, has topped 22,000 participants and unveiled its redesigned website, which is now mobile friendly with simpler navigation. ATR offers a 6-month program for Massachusetts’ residents who have, or are at risk of having, an opioid use disorder (OUD) and are seeking support with their recovery and assistance with community re-entry from the criminal justice system. ATR, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through grants to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS), is operated by Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP). 

ATR individually tailors support for adults in early recovery by providing recovery services including care coordination; financial support for participants’ basic living needs (e.g., transportation passes, clothing, hygiene products, and government ID cards); individualized recovery coaching; and the Career Building Initiative (CBI), which helps participants explore careers, become job ready, and learn the occupational skills necessary to enter the workforce.

“The innovative ATR strategy is making a difference, demonstrated by a four-fold increase in employment among participants after they complete the program compared to when they enrolled,” said Program Director Rebecca Starr. “Other tangible benefits to participants include low recidivism, high rates of abstinence from substance use, and economic stability. Thousands of ATR graduates are now better able to sustain recovery, find jobs, and maintain stable housing.”

ATR participants also are far less likely to fatally overdose while enrolled in the program, with rates of less than 1 percent. The landmark Chapter 55 Report showed that the risk of overdose is exponentially greater for those re-entering the community after incarceration in Massachusetts, indicating that ATR is helping save lives and providing a path to long-term recovery in a tangible way.

“In a tight labor market, ATR offers employers a motivated group who have gone through job training and are trying to rebuild their lives,” noted Starr. “Many of them are incredibly ambitious, motivated to change and are productive workers. When you take people in recovery from substance use and give them a stable income, you decrease criminal justice involvement and reliance on public assistance programs. It’s a win-win for communities.”

About 90 percent of ATR participants have some criminal justice system involvement and often face barriers to securing employment. To accommodate this population, CBI includes training in jobs that employ people with a criminal justice background, including culinary/food services, commercial cleaning, construction, hotel/hospitality, truck driving, and office work.

ATR has been active in Springfield and Boston since 2011, and recently launched programs in Worcester and New Bedford.

More information about the program and opportunities for job-training providers is available on the updated ATR website at www.ma-atr.org/.

 

Access to Recovery (ATR), is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through a grant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Bureau of Substance Addiction Services.

Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP) is the administrative services organization for Access to Recovery and manages the program on behalf of the Commonwealth. AHP’s mission is to improve health and human services of care and business operations to help organizations and individuals reach their full potential.


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