Emergency departments all over the country are missing an opportunity to help a large demographic of people. With few exceptions, hospitals treat drug overdoses by reviving, stabilizing, and then discharging the patients. After overdose reversal, people struggling with addiction return to their everyday lives and tend to fall into their old destructive patterns unless they receive outside help. It is no wonder that those same patients often end up back in the emergency department with subsequent overdoses, some of which are fatal.
If hospitals are willing to put some stepping stones in place to help this under-served population after the first overdose incident, many of those patients could go on to make a full recovery instead of winding up back in the ER.
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Doctors Cannot Force Addiction Recovery
The argument could be made that recovery from addiction requires the patient to take initiative and make the effort to get better. Doctors cannot force their patients down a path to recovery. However, the same is true for dozens of other health conditions as well. If a type 2 diabetic patient with an eating disorder comes into the ER in a diabetic crisis, doctors stabilize the patient and then discharge him with a prescription for diabetes medication, a referral to an endocrinologist, and perhaps even referrals to a nutritionist for dietary help and a mental health counselor for therapy.
In contrast, if a patient is admitted for a drug overdose, he or she is treated and discharged with no further help. Both addiction and type 2 diabetes can be managed with behavioral modification and ongoing medical assistance, but only one of these hypothetical patients will be offered a further treatment plan to manage his condition. Why are overdose patients overlooked when it comes to this critical second step?
Why Those Struggling With Addiction are Overlooked
Part of the issue lies with the fact that doctors and medical staff rarely have the training to understand addiction and recovery. Emergency doctors, in particular, are trained to deal with urgent crises and not with the sensitive and difficult recoveries that happen after their initial treatments. It can be easy for emergency workers to become desensitized to drug addiction and overdoses in certain communities, especially when they are constantly overworked, busy, and exposed to trauma on a daily basis. This is where a solid referral network could save thousands of lives every year.
Hospital systems already use expansive networks with specialist physicians in order to make referrals for other medical conditions. Drug addiction treatment centers are a crucial piece of the puzzle to include in this network. Not every patient will follow up with the treatment center after a referral, but for some, this small helping hand could make the difference between life and death.
Overdose reversal is just the first step toward the long path of recovery. Many more patients could be counseled to take that path if they are provided with adequate resources and a stepping stone.
Long-Term Addiction Recovery
Full addiction recovery requires several key components such as a proper detox procedure, medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, a controlled and safe environment, and talk therapy.
Standard hospitals rarely have the resources or space to take on patients experiencing acute withdrawal, let alone the prolonged recovery programs and counseling most people need in order to make a permanent change. However, for a person who just survived a severe drug overdose and was sent home without any further resources, making the effort to seek out specialized help often proves to be an insurmountable challenge. Emergency medical staff need to have a protocol on hand to bridge that gap and provide an easy transition to long-term care at a rehabilitation clinic.
Comprehensive Addiction Treatment
Specialists at drug treatment centers offer comprehensive and long-term assistance tailored to each patient’s individual needs. Long-term recovery care at one of these facilities will far exceed the short-term care offered in an ER or a standard hospital on an outpatient basis. If you are serious about recovery, there is no replacement for a dedicated addiction treatment center. Just as a diabetic patient with a life-threatening blood sugar level is not expected to make a full recovery entirely on his own, you should not expect yourself to combat a severe and life-threatening addiction on your own after an overdose reversal.
If you need help, for yourself or for a loved one, your first step should be to reach out to an addiction treatment center. Contact Ocean Hills Recovery today for more information and help finding the resources you need to get better. You will receive effective intervention and detox services, followed by long-term, personalized drug treatment programs that are covered by most PPO insurance plans.
There is no need to feel alone or helpless anymore. Ocean Hills Recovery will help you conquer your addiction and take ownership of your life again.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.