Northern Kentucky Tribune

New app aims to improve addiction treatment in the region by building network of peer support

April 16, 2019

Originally published on NKY Tribune

Realworks, in conjunction with Interact for Health, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, InquisitHealth and local substance abuse treatment providers, today announced the launch of a new app to improve the role of peer supporters for addiction recovery in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.

The PeerStrong app will be rolled out in two phases.

The first, beginning now, is designed to build a network for current and potential peer supporters. Individuals who are in recovery and interested in helping others can join the network by downloading the PeerStrong app, where they will be able to access information about local treatment providers, guides to social services in the region and information about formal programs to be certified and trained as a peer supporter.

In its second phase, anticipated to launch later this year, PeerStrong will also facilitate virtual matches between peer supporters and individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

The app will enable better connections to treatment and wraparound services, as well as better management of peer supporters to improve treatment outcomes. Phase two will launch only after the results of phase one suggest that continued development of the tool will improve outcomes.



“A successful path to recovery from addiction involves many moving parts and systems, including treatment, housing, health care, etc.,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “Most people need help navigating these systems as they begin their journey of recovery, and we hope that PeerStrong can help fill some of the gaps.”

The free app is designed for use by people living in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region with any type of addiction.

It runs on the InquisitHealth platform, which is HIPAA compliant and has been used for management of other health conditions. 

Discussion and content on PeerStrong will be moderated by a network of counselors from five local treatment providers: BrightView, Center for Addiction Treatment, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services, Talbert House and Transitions.

“It takes a community banding together to help individuals with substance use disorder maintain long-term recovery,” said Jessica Johnson, who has supervised Ohio Certified Peer Supporters at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services in Clermont County for years. “The PeerStrong app may be just what we need to collaborate more efficiently across those invisible county and agency lines in real-time to ensure the folks we serve receive the support they need and desire.”



According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, peer support workers are people who have been successful in the recovery process who help others.

Studies compiled by the Recovery Research Institute to evaluate the effectiveness of peer recovery support for individuals with substance use disorder found improved relationships with providers and social supports, reduced rates of relapse, increased satisfaction with overall treatment, and increased treatment retention.

“Substance abuse treatment stretches far beyond the walls of a provider’s office,” said Sarah Giolando, Chief Strategy Officer with St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “To achieve successful, sustained recovery, individuals often need to rebuild their lives, including employment and family relationships. Connecting with someone who has a shared understanding of and respect for the issues ahead can be a valuable resource.”

PeerStrong is one of three pilot projects launched by Realworks to date, with other projects focusing on eliminating transportation barriers and using behavioral nudges as possible avenues to improve outcomes for individuals struggling with addiction. 

Funding for the initiative is provided by Interact for Health, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, BrightView, Center for Addiction Treatment, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services, Talbert House and Transitions, with additional support from Mercy Health.

For more information and for details about downloading the PeerStrong app, click here.

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