Tennessee Recovery Navigator: From Overdose to Recovery

Tennessee Recovery Navigator: From Overdose to Recovery

A new program has launched in Tennessee further bridging the gap from addiction to recovery.  TN Recovery Navigators have been hired across the state as part of Gov. Haslam’s TN Together plan.  Their mission is to help people who have experienced an overdose, assisting them as they navigate their own recovery journeys. A Tennessee Recovery Navigator is a person in long-term recovery who can serve as an access point to treatment and recovery resources. Their responsibility is first and foremost to meet patients who have recently overdosed in the Emergency Department and connect them with the substance abuse treatment and recovery services they need.  The Navigators maintain a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) Certification in order to use their lived experience to help others find recovery. They are not crisis providers and they do not serve as a therapist, clinician, counselor, or sponsor. The certification gives Navigators the expertise to use their lived experience with addiction and recovery to help others find their own path to recovery.


The Navigators are employed by local treatment providers in the areas across the state with the

greatest prevalence of overdoses. They are as follows:


Location Treatment Provider
Shelby County Cocaine Alcohol Awareness Program (CAAP)
Davidson County and surrounding areas Buffalo Valley
Hamilton County Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (CADAS)
Knox County and surrounding areas Cherokee Health
Upper East Tennessee Frontier Health


The priority response for Navigators will be 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.


The Navigators prioritize patients by the following criteria when multiple calls are received:


(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 one who:


(A) Presents with a primary diagnosis of an opiate overdose

(B) May or may not have received Narcan before or during transport to the Hospital

(C) Has no additional health complications that would require hospital admission

(D) Does NOT meet the involuntary psychiatric commitment / crisis criteria, i.e. does NOT reflect suicidality or Conditional Suicidality


There are two types of referrals that a healthcare practitioner in a hospital can make to refer to a Navigator – over the phone or an in-person referral. Both referral processes can be seen as a

workflow separately. Navigators will also be doing follow-up at two different points after they interact with a patient at the hospital. First, 72 hours after the hospital interaction, and then second, 30 days after the hospital interaction. At both points, the Navigator will be broadly assessing the patient’s condition and offering community and treatment support in the event that patient is interested in additional resources beyond what they first requested in the Emergency Department.

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