Why Not Start Addiction Treatment Right In The ER?

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NPR on April 29, 2015 by Scott Hensley

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­When patients brought to the ER have uncontrolled blood pressure, neglected asthma or diabetes that hasn’t been dealt with, doctors often start treatment right then and there.

But what happens when the patient turns out to be addicted to opioids, such as oxycodone or heroin? In case of an overdose, the medical team can take action to rescue the patient. The underlying addiction is something else, though.

Like asthma or diabetes, opioid addiction is a chronic condition. Could starting treatment for addiction in the ER get someone on right road faster? Doctors at Yale University thought it was possible. “You can normalize this chronic disease like any other chronic disease,” says Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, chief of emergency medicine at Yale’s med school.