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Recovery isn't done alone; Tennessee program connects people struggling with addiction with people who recovered

Tennessee added five new Lifeline Peer Project Coordinators to help people in rural areas overcome addiction.

People struggling to overcome addiction sometimes need someone to help them through it, especially someone who understands their struggles.

So, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services hired five new Lifeline peer project coordinators who will help people in rural areas overcome substance abuse issues. They will be placed in counties throughout Tennessee, including in Cocke and Scott counties.

New Lifeline coordinators will also be based in Grundy, Lauderdale and McNairy counties. There are already ten Lifeline coordinators across the state, including in Knox County.

Through the Lifeline Peer Project, coordinators who experienced addiction firsthand can use their pasts to help others.

Coordinators help connect people with treatment resources and so far created more than 600 community recovery support meetings, according to a press release from TDMHSAS. Lifeline Peer Project Coordinators also help train people on addiction in their communities.

“This is a program that is truly low-cost but also very high impact," Marie Williams, TDMHSAS commissioner, said in a press release. "Our Lifeliners are chain breakers and way makers in the communities they serve."

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Lifeline coordinators also share their recovery stories with their communities to try and stop stigmas associated with addiction. The less stigma associated with addiction, the more people may try to find help and take advantage of recovery resources.

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"The dynamic individuals who serve as Lifeliners are constantly thinking of new ways to spread the good news of recovery and bring help to the hurting," Dr. Monty Burks said in a press release, TDMHSAS director of faith-based initiatives. "It's been immensely gratifying to watch this program grow, first as a Lifeliner myself and now as the program director."