Peer Recovery Program Leads To Better Treatment Adherence And Lower Healthcare Costs When Coupled With A PCP And Medication-Assisted Treatment

In a review of peer recovery coaching and its partnership with the Anchor Recovery Community Center, a program of The Providence Center, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) found that peer recovery participants were more likely to stay in substance use disorder treatment when peer recovery is combined with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the participant has a primary care provider (PCP). The review also found that peer recovery can reduce short-term healthcare costs and is predicted to reduce long-term costs.

“Peer recovery, when combined with having a primary care provider and receiving medication-assisted treatment, has a significant impact on whether someone stays connected to treatment. This is an important distinction and highlights the critical factors needed to help those dealing with substance use disorders,” said Rena Sheehan, MBA, LICSW, managing director, clinical integration, BCBSRI. “The Providence Center, through its Anchor Recovery Community Center, has been an incredible partner and our review of member data underscores how important a peer recovery program can be.”

BCBSRI’s review of the Anchor Peer Recovery Coaching Program examined three years of data from its commercial member population. Members could access the program through a number of different channels such as self-referral, provider referral, through an emergency department visit, or an inpatient stay. The goals of the program are to connect participants with the appropriate level of care to recover from addiction and to provide counseling and social support for participants on their recovery journey.

“I am very pleased to have the results of the BCBSRI evaluation of the Anchor Peer Recovery Coaching Program validate the work that the peer recovery coaches have accomplished with those in the community experiencing a substance use disorder. This year, Anchor celebrates 10 years helping those who are struggling with addiction find not only hope, but a way back to a healthy lifestyle. While there are many paths to recovery, providing a network of peers and recovery-oriented programming is crucial. Since its inception, Anchor has become a national leader in the peer recovery movement,” said Deb O’Brien, president and COO, The Providence Center.

The data review of the partnership showed that of the 50 percent of participants whose treatment included MAT, those participants are 65 percent more likely to stay connected to treatment. Peer recovery participants studied are also 73 percent more likely to be admitted to treatment if they have a PCP. The review also found that participation in MAT was higher in younger ages (mean age of 33).

In addition to staying better connected to treatment, the review found that participants’ medical and pharmacy costs decreased by 12 percent, following the initial program engagement. And through a regression analysis, it is predicted that there will be a 67 percent decrease in long-term healthcare costs.

“We are encouraged by these results, but we also know we still need to focus on connecting more people to treatment and making sure they stay connected to treatment,” said Sarah Fleury, LICSW, CPHQ, BCBSRI manager, behavioral health. “These results give us a clear path to continue our efforts to encourage MAT and helping connect participants with a primary care provider if they don’t already have one.”

To learn more about the Anchor Peer Recovery Coaching Program and other behavioral health initiatives BCBSRI supports, please visit


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