Freddie Laboy of Prevention Point spoke to our class on Tuesday about being a certified recovery specialist (CRS). He said his main job in this role is to find new ways to help clients reduce opioid use —this may include setting goals, going with them to meetings and taking them to doctor’s appointments.

He said in order to become a CRS some of the requirements are: being a person in recovery, being in a state of sobriety for 18 months, taking an 18-week, eight-hour class, spending 54 hours in the field and paying to take the certification test, among other requirements.

Laboy said as a CRS, he works with many people who have been formerly incarcerated. He uses clients’ experiences with incarceration to show them that they have the ability to enter recovery and be productive —he reminds clients of how they focused on being productive during incarceration to get home as quickly as possible. Laboy said this shows clients that they have been able to set goals and reach them before, even if the circumstance of incarceration may have been a negative experience in other ways.

I thought this was interesting because I have an interest in re-entry and working with formerly incarcerated populations. So seeing that Laboy acknowledges that many of his clients have had this experience was encouraging. I think allowing people to see their incarceration as a learning experience, even when it comes to simple goal-setting, is important.

Laboy, who also started the 12-step meeting, Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous, also talked about medication-assisted recovery. He said medication-assisted recovery is stigmatized by society, but that stigma is slowly being broken down; he added that he doesn’t think there is one right way to enter recovery. Some people’s journeys may include medication and others’ may not. He said there are also pros and cons to the different kinds of medications people choose to use to assist their recovery when they do choose to use medication at all.                  

One thing Laboy said is a barrier people face in medication-assisted recovery is that police officers will sometimes take medication from people who are prescribed it if they are carrying it on their person. Laboy said he has heard from clients who have experienced this. But he said he thinks these encounters may be affected by factors like race, socioeconomic status and the location of the encounter. I would be interested to hear from people this has happened to and will look out for investigating this further with guests and sources.