Reaching Out...Changing Lives


Peer Engagement Specialist

What you might not know…
Individuals in New York State continue to get impacted by Heroin use in epidemic proportions. With over 50,000 overdose deaths in America last year, there is an increasing demand to bridge the gap between emergency medical services and substance abuse treatment. Many individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) are in need of support and motivation to begin the journey of rehabilitation and recovery.

You are not alone!
The Rescue Mission of Utica Peer Engagement Specialist service is a 24/7, mobile, on-call responder who will travel to any Emergency Department (ED) located in the Mohawk Valley Region (Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, and Montgomery counties) and assist individuals diagnosed with SUD. The Advocate is available to assist in discharge planning for SUD individuals treated for drug overdose and/or drug-related complications.

A Peer Engagement Specialist is…
A person with lived experience in addiction and has successfully navigated the recovery system.  Each advocate holds a credential from a certifying authority recognized by the OASAS Commissioner and is employed by an OASAS certified program.

The main functions of a Peer Engagement Specialist are:

  • To connect and support SUD individuals in the ED through empathy, responsiveness and compassion while demonstrating a true and personal understanding of the individual’s situation and circumstances.
  • To use his/her personal story of recovery to inspire, provide hope and ignite motivation.
  • To assist SUD individuals and families to identify and recognize natural supports.
  • To educate and connect SUD individuals and families to community resources regarding substance abuse treatment, medication assisted treatment, insurance coverage, navigating the benefits system and assisting to establish benefits necessary to obtain treatment.

The Peer Engagement Specialist program is sponsored by the NYS Office of Mental Health and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

For more information you can view our commercial or download the Peer Engagement Specialist brochure or contact:

Sarah Decker, BS, CASAC – Program Director of the Addiction Stabilization Center


315-735-1645 ext. 2161






Physical Location 210 Lansing Street
Utica, NY 13501


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