UofSC School of Medicine Greenville, Clemson University, Prisma Health-Upstate, FAVOR Greenville, sees success through addiction recovery research


The research team consists of (from L-R) Prerana Roth, Lauren Demosthenes, Kaileigh Byrne, (front row) Tricia Lawdahl and Katy Dumas.
The research team consists of (from L-R) Prerana Roth, Lauren Demosthenes, Kaileigh Byrne, (front row) Tricia Lawdahl and Katy Dumas.

Since starting data collection less than a year ago, a team of researchers are already starting to see success in an addiction recovery study using Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) – Greenville’s addiction recovery program that involves recovery coaches while the individual is still hospitalized from complications of long-term substance use.

The research team consists of Drs. Prerana Roth and Lauren Demosthenes from Prisma Health–Upstate, medical students from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, CEO of FAVOR Greenville Rich Jones, Trish Lawdahl from FAVOR Greenville and Kaileigh Byrne, Ph.D., a psychology researcher from Clemson University.

The team’s research entails initiating peer recovery services to patients who are hospitalized due to complications from long-term substance use.  On average, the patients in this study have grappled with substances use for almost 20 years and have experienced substantial changes in both the reward- and control-related regions of their brains, which can make recovery especially challenging. The goal of this project is to assess the effectiveness of providing an initial link to recovery during hospitalization and its impact on addiction recovery and quality of life.

The team compares outcomes in a group of individuals who are randomly assigned to a recovery coaching intervention with a control group of individuals who are randomly assigned to receive the current standard of care at Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital, which includes a patient-initiated self-referral for addiction treatment. The team conducts follow-up assessments with these patients at 30-day intervals for six months. Since beginning data collection in May 2018, the team has begun to see individuals in the recovery coaching intervention report better physical health and reduced substance use than the control group, Byrne said.

“These initial findings underscore the remarkable success of recovery coaching on overcoming Substance Use Disorder and promoting better overall health,” Byrne said. “By establishing a successful inpatient link to recovery treatment, this study may lead to the development of an effective method of care that can readily be implemented into a healthcare system.”

The project has also gained national attention as a finalist selected for the American College of Physician’s Innovation Challenge.

This research was born from an idea a medical student, Katy Dumas, had based on an elective course, Recovery Coaching for Addiction, that she took during her third year of medical school.  During this course, Dumas learned about FAVOR-Greenville which provides certified peer support specialists as recovery coaches who are trained in using recovery-oriented tools to help peers overcome addiction. She talked with Roth about this program, and then Roth helped put the research team together to begin the study. Byrne is the newest member of the team and has helped implement this research, Demosthenes said.

“Our missing piece was a person with a strong research background, and we were introduced to Kaileigh who provides this critical skill on our team,” Demosthenes said. “With many more research ideas in the pipeline, we know that this relationship will continue beyond this project.”

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