Massachusetts Hospital Starts Treating Opioid Addicts
On March 7, 2018, Massachusetts General Hospital became the first emergency department in the state to be able to provide immediate treatment to opioid addicts who need help. This hospital can now dispense buprenorphine to patients with opioid addictions who want to start getting well again. Per their plan for treatment, MGH will have a trained doctor at the ED at all times who can dispense buprenorphine and manage opioid addiction with medication.
Though this has been a long time coming, most hospitals are not equipped to treat individuals with medication assistance for opioid addiction. Instead, they can usually only offer help to those who need to contact a treatment center or, in the best-case scenario, hospitalized detox. Now, Massachusetts residents can come straight to MGH when they decide enough is enough.
Dr. Ali Raja, the executive vice chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at MGH had this to say: “If you come in with diabetes that’s out of control or horrible blood pressure, we can give you medication, we can help. But having somebody come in and ask for help with their opiate addiction and saying, ‘No, I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can,’ that’s exceptionally frustrating.”
Of course, now everything has changed at MGH, and with any hope, more hospitals around the country are soon to follow this example.
Why Isn’t Detox Treatment Enough for Opioid Addicts?
Though many hospitals offer detox treatment, as do detox facilities, this isn’t a full recovery program for addiction. Doctors at hospitals often have to hope their patients will seek further help afterward, and though detox centers are specifically focused on helping patients transition into rehab afterward, this does not always occur.
- Some people finish detox and think they are cured of their addictions when in reality they are simply no longer dependent on the drug. This can lead to serious problems, especially if the individual does not seek further treatment.
- The management of withdrawal with medications used during detox is important, as it makes the process easier and less dangerous (National Institute on Drug Abuse). However, it must be followed by rehab because detox itself does not treat addiction.
Those who do not receive the proper treatment after detox often relapse, which can be immensely dangerous, especially with opioids. According to the National Library of Medicine, opioid abusers are at most risk of a deadly overdose just after or during detox because their tolerances are lower at this time. They often do not realize this issue and will abuse the same amount of the drug they always did. Their bodies won’t be able to take it, and overdose will often occur.
Opioid Abuse in Massachusetts
The opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is serious. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of opioid overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015 increased by 29.6 percent. This was statistically significant when compared to the other states and the national average. The number of heroin overdoses also increased in this time period by 33.3 percent, which was also statistically significant.