TDMHSAS expands successful substance abuse treatment connection program into UC

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is adding seven new team members and 19 new counties to its Tennessee Recovery Navigator program.

Started in the summer of 2018, the Tennessee Recovery Navigators are people in long-term recovery from substance use disorder who serve as an access point to treatment and recovery resources.  The Navigators maintain a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist certification in order to use their lived experience to help others find recovery.

With the expansion, the TN Recovery Navigators program is adding coverage in rural areas at both ends of the state, the Cumberland Plateau, and suburban areas around Nashville.  The expanded reach means the TN Recovery Navigators will now be able to serve the 10 Tennessee counties where overdose death rates are the highest.

“We’re so pleased to be able to expand this successful program, especially in rural areas of East and West Tennessee,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.  “We are grateful to our community providers in these areas and across the state for making the Tennessee Recovery Navigators a vital link to treatment for people in need.  This program would be impossible without them.”

Since June 2018, TN Recovery Navigators have met with more than 620 people.  After implementing the expansion, the total number of TN Recovery Navigators will grow to 19 with access to patients in 32 Tennessee counties.

“The fact that we are less than a year in, and we are already expanding is a clear indicator from the community as well as the state that this is a program that matters and is the kind of intervention that we want to prioritize,” said Noelle Suarez-Murias, TDMHSAS director of special projects.  “It’s direct and immediate, and it’s also ongoing with follow-up contact at 72 hours and 30 days.  The combination of direct care, personal connection, and stories of lived experience are making a difference for patients.”

Original funding for the TN Recovery Navigators came from a state appropriation included in the FY19 budget.  This expansion is funded by a federal grant through the Victims of Crime Act.  Community providers adding or expanding service with this new funding include:

  • Buffalo Valley, Inc: Montgomery and Wilson counties
  • Frontier Health: Hancock and Johnson counties
  • Helen Ross McNabb Center: Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, and Jefferson counties
  • Pathways Behavioral Health: Benton, Chester, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, and Weakley counties
  • Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System: Putnam County

For more information on the TN Recovery Navigators visit:

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