Their Personal Journeys Now Give Others Hope

Their Personal Journeys Now Give Others Hope

Paul Bock and Andy Miller offer patients much more than resources and help for their addiction.

They also bring “street cred.”

As peer recovery coaches at Munson Medical Center they have the walked the walk and use their own journeys to recovery as launching pads to encourage patients with substance use disorder in the Emergency Department, inpatient setting, or outpatient clinics associated with the hospital.

“On an ongoing basis I use my story to build rapport with people I am working with. If somebody has reached the point where they are drinking just to stay alive, I can relate to that,” Bock said. “My struggle was with anything that would alter my state of mind.”

Bock recalls introducing himself to one patient and sharing his story. The patient asked him how he overcame his own addictions.

“I explained it to him the best that I could,” he said. “And here is the part that got to me – as he turned to look at me he said: ‘So there’s hope. You’ve given me hope.’ That was pretty powerful for me.”

For Miller, his addiction came after a major surgery at age 14. “I was prescribed an enormous amount of pain killers and became physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually addicted to them. I spent a lot of time in treatment and trying to get help,” he said. “When the prescription ran out I turned to heroin and in 2014 I overdosed from heroin and was given NARCAN®. I found myself back in treatment and really appreciated what the people that worked there did, and found this passion with helping people.”

He has been clean since April 23, 2014.

Munson Medical Center Behavioral Health Manager Susan Kramer said both Bock and Miller were hired as part of the hospital’s efforts to stem the region’s opioid epidemic. Funding for their positions comes from two different medication-assisted treatment grants. One grant covers Behavioral Health Outpatient services, the other is for patients with substance use disorder in Munson Medical Center.

“Their roles are to connect with patients and offer support, resources, community recovery options and most importantly – to offer hope from someone who has been there,” Kramer said. “They are motivators, allies, role models, problem solvers and advocates for individuals with these disorders.”  

Both Bock and Miller have been trained and certified through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as well as by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, which is recognized nationally.

In his outpatient role, Bock said he has been going throughout the community and introducing himself to the various resource agencies in the region, as well as to providers in areas of the hospital. Miller has taken a similar tack, introducing himself and explaining his role to providers and other hospital staff members to help ensure referrals to the service.

A typical day for both men begins with checks of email and phone messages, and then maybe it is off to meet with a patient to explain what services may help them, and determine if the patient wants help. A big part of their role is to let the patients know that they are not alone.

“Some people don’t know there are options and resources available. Part of my job is to reveal those resources and say, ‘Hey, there are funding centers, there are different avenues for recovery that you can take if you choose to,’” Miller said. “The other part – if someone doesn’t want it – is to be kind and meet that person where they are at. I tell them that ‘when you are ready, there will be services for you.’”

Other responsibilities involve helping patients navigate systems of care, providing education to patients, family members, and the community about addiction and supportive care, as well as helping reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder.

Bock, who had a successful manufacturing career before his addictions overcame him, said the opportunity to help people get past their addictions motivates him every day.

“I love coming to work and giving somebody a smile,” he said. “Maybe they haven’t laughed in weeks because they have been really struggling. If I can make them smile, and even chuckle, that lets you know that you are alive, right?”

Both men said it is important not to give up on those struggling with substance use disorder. They see agencies in the region stepping up and collaborating to try and solve a problem “that is bigger than we think.”

“Awareness is the first thing and acceptance is the second thing. Action is the third thing, and I think that as a community we are touching on all three of those,” Miller said. “But we just have to continue to raise awareness and accept it for what it is, and then really use the action part of this. Let’s stop with the stigma, and start to treat people as if it is a disease and not a moral deficiency.”

More information about Munson Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Services can be found at

People experiencing a crisis may call the region’s 24-hour crisis line at 833-295-0616.