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As overdoses rise in Ohio, peer support program works to help

Learn how peer counseling is making the difference in helping addicts recover.

CLEVELAND — Hospitals across Ohio are seeing a spike in patients needing help with alcohol and/or drug addiction. Dr. Ryan Marino is a Medical Toxicologist and University Hospitals Emergency Room Physician and says the numbers are trending in a bad direction.  

“There have been a lot more overdoses, a lot more people with withdrawal from substances and just people who don’t have anywhere else to go coming into the emergency department. Overdoses are definitely up in Cuyahoga County, in the state of Ohio and across the country,” says Dr. Marino.

Justin Larson is the Director of Health Systems for Thrive, a program helping restore hope to alcohol and drug addicts. “Whatever step of the recovery journey that they’re on, we really try to be there and assist them, and really walk besides and just assist them with any of the resources they need help with,” he says.

Larson says the holidays can be depressing for a lot of addicts and when you throw in the isolation from Covid, it’s the perfect storm to spiral downward. Larson says being a peer supporter is a way to connect with clients on a deeper level.

“I’m speaking their language, that’s where we can build that trust and that rapport to really uplift them and motivate them because it is ‘I’ve been where you’ve been, I know what your feeling’,” says Larson.

Dr. Marino tells 3News if you know someone who’s thinking about getting help, encourage them to reach out to THRIVE before it’s too late.

“We are here to help, were trying to expand the services that we can offer to these people and give them the vital support because every single person who overdoses and dies is 100% preventable,” says Dr. Marino.

Larson says the best part of being a peer counselor is seeing the success of when someone realizes their life is worth saving and breaks the chains of addiction. 

For more information on THRIVE, click on this link: https://thrivepeersupport.org/

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Editor's Note: The below story aired on December 2, 2020

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