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Letter: Addicts need humane medical intervention

Addicts need humane medical intervention

Recently I came across an article that calls for in-house detox for individuals with substance use disorders. I have been involved for over 25 years in the addiction treatment field, both locally and nationally.

Many years ago medication-assisted treatment, often Antabuse, was combined with a 28-day rehabilitation program. This was considered a “best practice.” All this changed during the initial era of managed care when insurers considered this type of treatment too costly. What should be noted is that this is exactly the type of treatment that helped many individuals begin their long journey into recovery.

We have now circled back to the recognition that severe addiction disorders are diseases that require medical intervention and state and federal laws that require insurance coverage for treatment.

However, detox remains a problem as most hospitals routinely turn away individuals who are in crisis – including following an overdose – as not being medically necessary. My question is: What can be more medically necessary? We know that individuals in crisis from recent overdose or imminent drug withdrawal are at the highest risk for drug overdose.

I understand the desperation of families who are now calling for home detox. My vast experience tells me this is not in the best interest of the family or the individual. Most families are not prepared or strong enough to deal with someone they love in withdrawal.

We need to demand that the medical system recognize the need for medical intervention and humane treatment for individuals who are suffering with addiction.

Emergency departments must attend to the medical and emotional needs of someone with an addiction disease. It is the only ethical, humane and right thing to do.

Sam Todaro, CEAP

Orchard Park

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