Michigan Hospitals Will Soon Start Treating Opioid Addiction

January 11, 2019

Prescription opioids with many bottles of pills in the background. Concepts of addiction, opioid crisis, overdose and doctor shopping

Hospitals in the U.S. are beginning to offer addiction treatments in the emergency room. According to Vox, hospitals across the U.S. are beginning to offer addiction treatment to combat the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

“There’s huge urgency on this,” said Katie Brisson, vice president at the non-profit Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, a member of the Michigan Opioid Partnership.

The Michigan Opioid Partnership is the latest statewide collaboration launched to combat the opioid epidemic in Michigan. The program is focused on piloting medication-assisted treatment for addiction with behavioral therapy through hospitals.

“When we stepped back to say, ‘Where can this partnership make the most difference right now’ this culture change in the emergency room rose to the top based on proven success in other communities,” said Brisson.

Many people suffering from addiction in the U.S. struggle to find treatment. Only 10% of those with substance use disorder get specialty treatment, according to a 2016 surgeon general report.

But federal data shows that fewer than half of treatment facilities actually offer evidence-backed specialty treatments even when they’re available. These treatment options include medications like buprenorphine and methadone, which has been the most effective opiate addiction treatment for over 50 years.

Studies show that these medications reduce the all-cause mortality rate among patients with opioid addiction by half or even more. They’re also more effective at keeping those with addiction in treatment programs compared to non-medication approaches.

Non-medication based approaches to addiction often involve nature retreats, therapy, and yoga. In fact, 9.5% of U.S. adults say yoga is their most used mind and body practice. But while flowers make people happy (63% of flowers are bought for oneself) and being outside in nature helps to reduce stress and anxiety, non-medication based addiction treatment options only have a success rate of 5% to 10%.

Unfortunately, medications like buprenorphine and methadone can be difficult to get in the United States. Only 5% of U.S. doctors are licensed to prescribe buprenorphine, and methadone has similar restrictions.

But the opioid epidemic has led policymakers to reevaluate these restrictions. The Michigan Opioid Partnership will invite hospitals to apply for funding to plan, train, and implement medication-assisted treatments.

The partnership will vote on grantees and will evaluate the efficacy of the treatments in Michigan after two years, Brisson said. Those suffering from addiction will be able to get the treatment they need in a medical facility without coming to the ER because of an overdose.

“We’re working hard to not create a one-drug system of care,” said Kelly Pfeifer, the director of the High-Value Care Team at the nonprofit California Health Care Foundation.

“We’re trying to use the money and attention to the opioid epidemic to support our efforts to build a robust addiction treatment structure that is integrated with our health care system so that any person with addiction can get the care they need.”

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