More About Our Work

Recovery BUILD Alternative Peer Group (APG)

We are losing teens at an alarming rate to addiction. As a community, we need to find and fix the gaps. Recovery Build APG is a safe place where teens and young adults come together with their peers in recovery to build a sober life that will sustain them as they integrate into the broader recovery community. Research shows that adolescents are far more likely to relapse when experiencing social pressures than adults. This is a multi-faceted program for youth to collaborate and create a new sober life. The meetings, education, and the fun activities, designed for students, occur after school, on the weekends and during school vacations. The Cape Cod APG is a pilot program that will open in Spring 2018 with the intention of scaling the program out to other regions in the future.

Young people going back to the same community, friends and activities face extremely strong substance use triggers which result in high relapse rates and even deaths.  Recovery Build APG provides hope and strong support for young people so they can be empowered to build amazing lives moving forward. This support model integrates recovering peers and prosocial activities into an evidence-based clinical practice.

The key components to the Recovery BUILD APG are


Recovery BUILD APG is a collaborative effort involving many organizations in the Cape Cod community including the Duffy Health Center and the Gandara Treatment Centers. Thanks To our funders: The National Library of Medicine and The Tower Foundation for supporting this program. For more information, contact Stephanie Briody at




Our screening, education and intervention framework is meant to identify risky behaviors in everyday language, in a staged progression so that young people can identify with them earlier. Given that ¾ of mental health and substance abuse issues start before age 24, more needs to be done to identify behaviors that come BEFORE an addiction, in a way that students can relate to them and understand the real impacts much earlier on in the process.  

Using “patient journey mapping” research techniques with youth in recovery from addiction, we are identifying discrete everyday behaviors “on the ramp to addiction” as told by young people, using their own language.  We will map these discrete behaviors into a staged progression. This staged progression will be used for self-assessment and education purposes with youth to augment school the SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) effort being mandated in many states. Our recovery student co-designers ALL say they were educated much earlier on about this progression, and they are eager to tell their stories to prevent others from experiencing the same painful trajectory. 

So much of the effort in dealing with addiction, and especially in response to the opioid crisis, is addressing the issue at stage 4 when it is much more difficult to have a sustained recovery.  Our co-designers will communicate their trajectory and real life consequences of progressive substance misuse in such a way that their peers will recognize those same behaviors and get off the ramp to addiction.  This will be packaged in an app using evidence based motivational interviewing and goal setting techniques that serve to uncover the young person’s own reasons and strategies to stop or cut down their substance use. We are currently seeking funding for this project.


Innovation in Behavioral Health

Our goal is to "think differently" about how behavioral health disorders can be prevented, diagnosed early, and/or managed to improve quality of life and reduce healthcare costs. As part of our ongoing work we are always tracking new care models, clinical research, and technologies that can be applied to substance use, anxiety and depression. Some areas of particular interest are technologies that can AUGMENT clinician efforts – such as predictive analytics, digital screening and treatment tools, precision medicine, mobile applications, online communities, virtual reality education, digital biomarkers, and more. 

While we prefer face to face contact there are several obstacles to getting treatment for behavioral health disorders

Digital tools can be used in the privacy of your own home 24x7.  Anywhere, anytime screening tools, stories from young people themselves via multimedia, and treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and tele-psychiatry are all examples of digital tools that address some of these obstacles. These modalities can be the “on ramp” to face to face treatment modalities and can provide solutions where capacity and access is limited.



My ChoIce MATTERs Youth Summit was held at the Cape Cod Community College. 70+ students attended from local schools including: Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Dennis-Yarmouth High School, Lighthouse Charter School, Mashpee Middle-High School, Monomoy Middle & High School and Wayside Academy. The theme of the day was “Dreams Not Drugs.” In small, age-appropriate groups youth were engaged by facilitators in interactive and experiential learning activities and participated in discussions about choosing health behaviors to reduce substance use.  Students in recovery from opioid use disorder came from Rockdale Recovery High School and delivered peer messages and answered questions during the Recovery Panel.  Slam poet Matt Ganem closed out the day with a power performance about his path to addiction and the impact it has had on his life.

Education curriculum, highly interactive exercises, and facilitator training guide were created in support of this event. This day-long summit was co-designed with students in recovery.  The small groups were led by facilitators.  This event is now available for other school systems.

But Don’t Listen to Us ... Hear What the Students Had to Say ...
Did anything you learned today change your mind about using drugs or drinking?

✓ Yes. “Long term effects” - Cape Cod Regional Technical School- 9th grader
✓ Yes. “Drugs ruined my life” - Monomoy High School- 12th grader
✓ Yes. “How careful you have to be” - Dennis-Yarmouth -11th grader
✓ Yes. “Nicole” - (Nicole is a Rockdale Recovery High School student panelist). Dennis-Yarmouth -11th grader
✓ Yes. “Mostly, knew a lot of it, but listening to their stories showed the real side of abuse”- Dennis-Yarmouth -11th grader
✓ Yes. “Don’t use there is no way back” - Dennis-Yarmouth -11th grader
✓ Yes. “A lot about marijuana” - Dennis-Yarmouth -10th grader
✓ Yes. “Just listening to their stories” - Dennis-Yarmouth - 9th grader
✓ No. “The reason being my family has users and those in recovery so I’ve seen it firsthand” - Dennis-Yarmouth -9th grader
✓ Yes. “It could lead to addiction and depression”- Monomoy- 8th grader
✓ Yes. “How fast you can get addicted to drugs” - Monomoy- 8th grader
✓ Yes. “Just because a doctor approved a drug does not mean it’s completely safe” - Monomoy- 7th grader
✓ Yes. “It can affect your future”- Monomoy- 7th grader
✓ Yes. “The major thing that changed my perspective on drugs was the large amount of people doing it at a young age” - Mashpee- 8th grader
✓ No. “I know many alcoholics so I made my mind up a while ago I wouldn’t drink or use” - Mashpee- 8th grader
✓ Yes. “Drinking is even worse than I thought”- Lighthouse Charter- 8th grader
✓ Yes. “How it is bad for you”-Lighthouse Charter- 6th grader
✓ Yes. “It showed me how much using and drinking can affect me”-Lighthouse Charter- 6th grader

What was the favorite part of the day for you?

✓ Human Body Map
✓ Q Á A
✓ Push Taxi game
✓ Learning about good ways to refuse drugs
✓ Playing Games
✓ “Knock- Out” Coping Strategies Game
✓ Thumper- Name Game
✓ Slam Poet and All the Group activities
✓ Meeting new people
✓ The Panel (of students in recovery)
✓ Listening to everyone’s stories and recovery
✓ Hearing from Andy


Best Practices for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

Our interviews with 70 experts, individuals, families, and clinicians provided incredible insights for addressing the opioid epidemic from a broad industry wide perspective. Working for the Massachusetts Service Alliance, part of the Corporation for National Community Service we were tasked with identifying what was working to address the opioid epidemic; and identifying the gaps that represent opportunities for impact.  Interviewing 70 thought leaders from a broad range of behavioral health and treatment sectors allowed us to identify best practices programs and gaps for prevention through treatment and sustained recovery. BHI then conducted an asset scan, and identified possible organizations doing work in the opioid recovery industry that might benefit from additional capacity of 20 AmeriCorps members.


Co-Design Workshops/Journey Mapping

BHI partnered with Mad*Pow to co-host a solution co-design workshop with students in recovery.  We wanted to understand their journeys, hear about their dreams, get insights on where interventions would have helped them earlier in the process, what triggered their decision to seek help, what they’ve gotten back now that they are in recovery.  We’ve held multiple journey mapping and solutions co-design sessions with students in recovery with the intention of creating a staged framework called RAMPTM



Drug Story Theater

BHI partnered with Drug Story Theater and the Zeiterion Theater to bring a school and community based performance to Southeastern MA. Students in recovery delivered an improv theater performance about their journey to, and recovery from, addiction. The performance led to one of the most amazing community discussions around the issues of substance use, addiction and community connection. The student actors answered questions from students and community members. We believe the power of peer voices is the most underutilized asset in the field of behavioral health, and performances such as Drug Story Theater where students can hear directly from their peers is an example of a program that has the ingredients to change behaviors.


Creative Expression Project

High School students supported those in recovery with messages of hope and inspiration. Behavioral Health Innovators invited schools and the recovery community to create artwork in any medium they chose – videos, drawings, slam poetry, photography, and more. This is a link to a video created by high school students at Dartmouth High School. Their video titled Time Wasted was based on a powerful poem called Wasted Time which was written by an anonymous young person in recovery. Prayer flags were also created by Dartmouth (MA) High School students and young people at the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford.


Behavioral Health Innovators, Inc.