The Courage Center and Lexington County Emergency Medical Services have launched the CORE Program being piloted to reduce opioid overdoses in Lexington County by quickly connecting overdose survivors to local treatment and recovery resources.

CORE, which stands for Coordinated Opioid Response and Engagement, is one of only four pilot projects in the country to be funded by an implementation grant awarded by the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

CORE’s two major strategies are to:
1) Connect overdose survivors with a peer recovery coach from The Courage Center who will help the individuals and their families navigate local treatment, recovery, and wrap-around services.
2) Support the Coroner’s Office in establishing an Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) Committee that will examine Lexington County overdose fatalities to identify gaps and prevention opportunities.

During Lexington County EMS transport, individuals who have been administered Narcan will get a CORE Care Pouch that holds resource information and a cell phone loaded with 60 pre-paid minutes. Soon after the overdose incident, a recovery coach from The Courage Center will call the phone to offer the survivor support and empathy only one with lived addiction and recovery experience can offer. The coach also will work to connect the survivor with local resources that can help them get and stay well.

“With the implementation of this program, we hope that Lexington County residents know that we are doing everything we can to combat the opioid crisis.” Lexington County EMS Chief Brian Hood said. “Connecting patients with critical post-incident support and treatment will go a long way in helping first responders in this national fight.”

As part of CORE, the OFR Committee will thoroughly review selected fatal overdose cases representing various locations throughout Lexington County (e.g., suburban and rural locations) and types of drugs (e.g., fentanyl, methamphetamine, etc.). The group will ultimately recommend strategies to prevent first-time and reduce repeat overdoses.

“CORE is about removing barriers to treatment and recovery services for overdose survivors with the help of trained recovery coaches experienced at navigating these complex systems of care. The pre-paid CORE cell phones allow us to reach survivors quickly and, ideally, before the overdose cycle repeats. We also are confident that the recommendations to come from the OFR will do much to inform our future work and that of our community partners,” said Adrienne Bellinger, Executive Director of The Courage Center. “I also 100 percent believe that our hard work with the CORE team – Lexington County EMS, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office, the CDC Foundation, and NACCHO – will save lives.”

The Courage Center is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit providing no-cost peer-led addiction recovery support services, and the only Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in South Carolina focusing specifically on adolescents ages 14 to 18, young adults ages 19 to 26, and their families. For more information visit www.couragecentersc.org.

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