Hospital uses former addicts to reach and understand addicts who show up to the ER

INDIANAPOLIS -- As hundreds of Hoosiers continue to die from the opioid crisis in the state, one hospital is using former addicts to help reach and understand addicts.

Andrew Gaddie is a recovery coach.

Several times a week, he meets with patients at Methodist Hospitals’ emergency department who have signs of addiction, including those who have overdosed on opioids or heroin.

He says he constantly hears the same thing from those overdose victims.

“(They say) ‘why did you save me? Do you know how much dope I just used? How much money? You should have just let me die.’ I’m like, it’s scary,” said Gaddie.

Gaddie says he connects with patients on a different level because he understands their pain. Almost 12 years ago, his life was also controlled by drugs.

“I thought I was going to die and I was good with it,” said Gaddie.

Now sober and part of long-term recovery, Gaddie is part of Project Point, providing patients with options like treatment programs, recovery services and job opportunities.

“We don’t tell you what to do, we sit and we listen. We may say ‘hey, that didn’t work, maybe you might want to try something different,’” said Gaddie. “No matter how many times you come here. We’ll be here for you.”

He can also give patients Narcan to take with them when they leave the ER, in case it happens again.

He says his overall goal is to change at least one life.

“Once is a victory, because it’s one that’s not back out there using. It’s one that’s not out there away from their family,” said Gaddie.

IU Health has secured a $1.4 million award from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction in the fight against the epidemic.

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