California Expanding on Addiction Treatment in the Emergency Room to Deal with Opioid Crisis

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January 15, 2019 – – California is now among several states that are expanding addiction treatment within the emergency room as the country deals with the opioid epidemic. At the core of this plan is the simple idea that treating addiction is as necessary as treating any other medical condition.

California, Massachusetts, and other states are beginning to recognize that addiction treatment should be incorporated into the health care system.

Done right, the idea could dramatically expand access to addiction treatment across the US. This is why California is starting with emergency rooms. Many addicted individuals never reach out to get treatment from drug rehab facilities, and yet so many people are rushed to the ER for opioid-related overdose. By acknowledging addiction as a medical condition and equipping ERs with the proper tools to treat them, more lives can be saved.

Treating addiction as something more than a ‘Moral Failure’ is essential for effectively treating and diagnosing. Some people think that rehab should have spiritual elements for people of faith, while others see it as more of a nature vs. nurture issue.

Despite the opioid crisis, most ERs do not offer addiction treatment—something California is hoping to change. Addiction and subsequent relapse should not be treated as a moral failure. Relapse is a normal part of recovery. It takes most patients multiple tries to finally get it right.

Part of confronting the country’s opioid epidemic is recognizing the fact that prescription medications have a high potential for abuse, and even those who have no intention of misusing them can get addicted.

Patients in ERs with other chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes typically receive long term management plans in order to treat their condition. A patient with drug addiction, on the other hand, might not be as lucky. This hands-off approach does little to reduce the serious risk of overdose and death.

The role of the ER in the fight against the opioid epidemic is shifting. The emergency room is the best place to begin this broader approach towards addiction treatment, simply because most ERs across the country do not offer this type of care. But the opioid epidemic continues, and a more direct approach is now necessary.

Drug overdoses were linked to a record 70,000 deaths in 2017, more than two-thirds of which involved opioid painkillers. 2018 appears to have been just as bad.

Beyond these overdose statistics, federal surveys report that more than 2 million people in the United States are addicted to opioids. Most of these people are not recreational users, but rather patients who were following a prescription. This means millions of people could potentially benefit from treatment if it is made more accessible. The emergency room is perfect because this is where overdose sends patients. It means that addiction treatment could be given to those whose conditions have gone to extreme levels.

Much of the reason why addiction treatment isn’t accessible is because of the stigma toward drug use and addiction. It can make it difficult to persuade ER doctors to do something they historically haven’t done. But California and other states’ experiences suggest that not only is addiction treatment in the ER possible, but also effective.

California is currently gearing up to expand the idea. The state’s Bridge Program and Public Health Institute is preparing to award more than $8 million to as many as 30 hospitals in the coming weeks for addiction treatment. This is one of the first few ways that the opioid crisis is being tackled directly—as addiction is now being treated like other kinds of health care.

It is important to keep in mind that addicted individuals don’t have to reach the ER to receive the treatment they need. If someone in the family is struggling with opioid addiction, a comprehensive treatment program may be necessary. Look for a drug rehab facility nearby and learn more about how addiction treatment works. Visit Rehab Near Me on Linked in for more news and articles.


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