UW-CTRI Partners with AmeriCorps Recovery Coaches

Woman walking through a field, free

UW-CTRI Regional Outreach Specialist Sarah Thompson recently presented a two-part training to recovery coaches at Marshfield Clinic Health System on how to help people quit tobacco use. The coaches are part of the Recovery Corps designed to help patients quit addictions.

“This training was so valuable,” said Lanise C, a recovery coach. “It gave me the push to quit smoking! I have shared the information with as many people as I can.”

Recovery Corps is part of the AmeriCorps program at the Marshfield Clinic Health System. The first of its kind in Wisconsin, it trains coaches in the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery model for helping people quit addictions. They focus on reducing prescription drug, opioid, and other substance use disorders through one-on-one contact, outreach phone calls, and community education.

These coaches tackle the ever-growing issue of substance use at law enforcement agencies, county jails, public health departments, social service departments, health care organizations, nonprofits, local coalitions, and other government agencies.

Jenny Chiamulera from the Northwoods Tobacco Free Coalition also spoke at the trainings about vaping and Tobacco Is Changing, the media campaign designed to keep parents posted on how tobacco products have evolved and are disguised as other devices.

Approximately 15 coaches attended each session, representing the counties Clark, Forest, Florence, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Portage, Price, Shawano, Vilas, Washburn, and also including Forest County Potawatomi, Sokaogon Chippewa, Menominee, and Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

“This was a great training for Recovery Coaches,” said Recovery Corps Program Coordinator Christina Garcia. “Many Recovery Coaches stated they will be using the information received at this training to help assist those seeking recovery coach services for tobacco use. This training also helped some of our Recovery Coaches decide to quit smoking.”

AmeriCorps, a federal program often referred to as a domestic Peace Corps, provides a number of benefits to both individuals and community agencies working to improve community health. The Marshfield Clinic Health System AmeriCorps Recovery Corps began in 2017 with the goal of selecting individuals in recovery themselves, or who were impacted by substance abuse, to be trained and become recovery coaches to address the growing opioid and other substance use crisis head on.

Sarah Thompson
Sarah Thompson

“The event went well,” said Thompson. “The coaches are in a variety of community settings, so the content applied differently to each coach. Afterwards, I sent Quit Line print materials, fact sheets, and some information on marijuana use. There were great questions following both training sessions.

“One coach shared how his perception on tobacco use had changed over time,” Thompson said. “He previously felt tobacco use should be left alone in recovery: ‘Why take cigarettes away too?’ After looking at some data, he changed his mind, and now believes addressing tobacco is a key part of recovery from drug addictions and mental illness.

Thompson said coaches were very interested in two big ideas: the science of tobacco use (understanding truths vs. mistruths) and what to say to youth/people in recovery about tobacco. They were very curious on what conversations could look like and how to present ideas and resources.

The group discussed an annual training early in the upcoming Recovery Corps term of service. The plan is to complete the two-part training again in the fall as the new cohort of recovery coaches begin, with the same presenters.

“Some of the recovery coaches said they use tobacco themselves and felt this could be a challenge in providing assistance to others,” Thompson said. She encouraged them to quit and help others quit, and plans to delve more into this in future presentations.

“Some coaches may return,” Thompson said. “Ideally, these coaches will share their experiences addressing tobacco use and identify challenges. I would also like to look into how to support the coaches in their respective settings.”

For more information on AmeriCorps Recovery Corps, reach out to Program Coordinator Christina Garcia at: 715-221-8413 or garcia.christina@marshfieldclinic.org