It was with immense sadness that I learned last week of the death of Paul Bowman. Paul was a peer recovery coach and advocate in Boston, Massachusetts, and was one of the leading voices for the HEALing Communities Study (HCS), which is testing ways to integrate various evidence-based practices to drastically reduce opioid overdose in 67 American localities. Paul was the national Steering Committee advisor for the Massachusetts arm of the study. His lived experience with recovery and addiction were central to his work, including his experience taking medication to treat his opioid use disorder, and it enriched his work with HCS. I extend my deepest sympathies to Paul’s family, colleagues, and everyone who knew and loved him.
Paul leaves behind an impressive legacy. As a social worker and activist in recovery, Paul devoted his life to fighting for the rights and dignity of people with substance use disorders in Boston. Paul advocated for greater access to medications to treat opioid use disorder, the use of naloxone to prevent overdose, harm-reduction measures to prevent other negative outcomes, and expanded access to housing. As a peer recovery coach, he guided many through treatment and recovery with encouragement and understanding. He was also tireless in his work to combat the devastating stigma that surrounds addiction.
Paul’s obituary shares more about his life, and reports his sudden death from a drug overdose. This news underscores how difficult the recovery journey can be and how essential compassionate, consistent support is at every stage. It should strengthen our resolve to support those with substance use disorders and to do everything we can to end this deadly crisis.