Studies show that substance abusers who are treated for an overdose in a hospital are much more likely to stay sober if they enter into addiction treatment immediately following their discharge from the hospital. However, studies also show that addicts who seek help for an overdose at a hospital rarely enter treatment following their discharge unless they are persuaded to do so by hospital staff or family members. This is quite the grievance because a chance at a new life after surviving an overdose is often the best time for an addict to get the help that they so desperately need.
A study, led by Dr. Jane Liebschutz of the Boston Medical Center, examined one-hundred and thirty-nine patients who had been hospitalized due to heroin addiction. None of the patients had been receiving any kind of treatment whatsoever prior to coming to the hospital with drug abuse complications.
The group of hospitalized addicts was divided into two groups. One group, as they were discharged, received only information about addiction treatment centers in their area. The other group, as they were discharged, were referred directly to rehab.
After a month following each patient’s discharge had passed, all one-hundred and thirty-nine patients were followed up with by hospital attendees. During the survey, thirty-seven percent of the group that had gone directly to rehab admitted that they had consumed no illicit substances or abused any legal substances in any way. Many could not answer because they were still in treatment.
For the other group, the results were not so good. Of the group that had only been told about rehab options but which hadn’t been directed straight into rehab, that group only reported a nine percent recovery rate.
The survey was performed again five months later. The results were similar. The hospital patients who had gone on to receive rehabilitation immediately following hospital discharge showed much better abstinence rates than patients who had simply been saved from their overdoses and then did not seek help.
The study results indicate that there is a very strong relationship between hospital help and rehab help following a survived overdose than just receiving medical care at a hospital. The study also shows that hospitals themselves can have a marked effect on the sanity and physical stability of their patients if they put in the extra effort to see their patients into rehab following release from a hospital.
Hospitals need to refer their patients to treatment centers following their release from the hospital to ensure that patients will have an amicable and smooth recovery. Surviving an overdose is rarely a form of treatment. Sometimes it scares an addict into never using again, but not often. Usually, an overdose survivor will be right back on the streets again looking to score unless they are given more help than just the medical assistance that a hospital has to offer.
Hospitals have it within their power to refer patients to treatment centers. They cannot force patients to seek help, but they can strongly encourage it, and they can provide the necessary referrals to make the transition smooth.
The emergency room is the perfect locale for an addict to hit rock bottom, and that rock bottom touch-down point is the best time by far for family members, loved ones, and especially hospital staff, to double down on the addict and convince them to go into rehab immediately following their discharge. Not enough hospitals do this, and that needs to change.
Tens of thousands of people die from overdoses every year. An addict who escapes death and survives an overdose should consider themselves lucky. Addicts should use this near scrape with death to incentivize change and a better lifestyle. Hospitals can do more for being the initial “push” that inspires that positive change.