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Tennessee Recovery Navigators

Tennessee Recovery Navigators are people in long-term recovery who meet patients who have recently overdosed in the Emergency Department and connect them with the substance abuse treatment and recovery services they need.  Navigators maintain a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) Certification in order to use their lived experience to help others find recovery.

The Navigators are employed by local treatment providers in the areas across the state with the greatest prevalence of overdoses. 

To learn more, or if your hospital is interested in these services, contact: 

Noelle Suarez-Murias
Director of Special Projects

Frequently Asked Questions

The goal of this program is to break the cycle of overdose and increase the number of individuals who are connected with treatment and recovery services by meeting patients in the emergency department after an overdose.

Currently, there are 19 TN Recovery Navigators: 4 full-time and 1 part-time in Davidson County, 2 in Shelby County, 2 in Knox County, 3 in the Tri-Cities, 1 in Hamilton County, 3 in Madison County, 1 in Putnam County, and 2 in Hamblen County.

The priority response for Navigators is for opiate overdoses.  In the event that a patient presents with another drug as the primary cause of overdose, and does NOT have additional health complications, the Navigator can be called to provide treatment and recovery referrals upon the patient’s consent.  Navigators may also serve patients who present to the emergency department in active withdrawal or with a primary substance abuse disorder based on the practitioner’s discretion.

When multiple calls are received, the Navigator will prioritize patients by the following criteria:

  1. First Priority: Pregnant, injecting substance abuse
  2. Second Priority: Pregnant substance abuse
  3. Third Priority: Injecting drug abuse
  4. Fourth Priority: Medically-Monitored Crisis Detoxification admissions
  5. Fifth Priority: All Other drug abuse

The primary patient profile for a patient who should be referred to a Navigator is a person who:

  • Presents with a primary diagnosis of an opiate overdose
  • May or may not have received Narcan before or during transport to the Hospital
  • Has no additional health complications that would require hospital admission
  • Does NOT meet the involuntary psychiatric commitment / crisis criteria, i.e. does NOT reflect suicidality or Conditional Suicidality

Health care providers in the hospital who oversee the patient must gain consent from the patient to talk to a Navigator.  Once that consent is signed, a Release of Information should be completed to be able to release that patient to discuss treatment and recovery referrals with the Navigator.

Patient Demographic Data

The following graphs broadly show the demographics of patients who have interacted with Navigators since the program’s inception beginning mid-June 2018.  This data is current as of April 25, 2019.