January 19, 2019 – – As the opioid epidemic continues to affect the nation, and more people are dying from a prescription drug-related overdose, new obstacles are surfacing and making it more difficult to solve the problem. Drug rehab centers in the US, are facing a daunting task, to help people beat addiction.
The last inpatient detox program in Washington D.C., for example, is starting to run out of space for new patients. The District once had plenty of accessible inpatient detox programs. However, these facilities have gradually been shut down.
Right now there is only one left: the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW) located in Tenleytown. In fact, it has been the only inpatient detox facility in Washington D.C. since October 2017. Residents on DC Medicaid, as well as those who don’t have insurance, will have to go to the PIW for inpatient detox because it is the only option that offers the program.
Inpatient Detox Programs: The Importance of Comprehensive Treatment facing our nation.A person with severe opioid addiction requires inpatient detox because it is the most focused and most comprehensive type of treatment available. It requires the patient to stay in the facility for months at a time, as they receive medical attention and go through behavioral therapy.
This level of addiction is considered a medical emergency because withdrawal sets in quickly, and it remains extremely uncomfortable for five to ten days, depending on the person’s drug intake. Drug-dependent individuals have to be monitored closely by medical professionals because withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Medication can make withdrawal less dangerous. It can also ease the symptoms. In many cases, medications are required during detox, because opioid replacement therapy is the only way to reduce the impact of withdrawal.
Inpatient treatment, if done right, can help prevent patients from relapsing. Not only are they given a safe place where they can focus on getting better, they are also removed from their toxic environment, which may have reinforced abusive behavior.
Doctors can administer the right dosage of medication and monitor for complications.
From this, and the fact that there’s an opioid crisis, it is easy to see why inpatient facilities can fill up in no time.
Washington D.C.’s Shortage of Inpatient Treatment Facilities is increasing. The District government used to have its own inpatient detox program at the DC General Hospital. However, the hospital closed in 2001.
In 2017, the deadliest year of the current opioid crisis in DC, there were only two programs in the city. One was at Providence Hospital, and one was at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. On October that year, Providence shut its program down, leaving the PIW to be the sole provider of inpatient detox, at a time where it is most necessary.
In 2016, PIW received 900 patients who required inpatient detox. According to a PIW representative, this included patients who needed detox for alcohol and non-opiate drugs.
In 2017, after Providence closed, PIW received 1,500 patients, almost a thousand of whom live in Wards 7 and 8.
Addiction specialist Maria Paige from community health non-profit Mary’s Center, says that the availability of detox beds has only recently become a problem in Washington D.C.
“And we’re having all of these overdoses. We need to expand,” says Paige. After all, “this is Washington, D.C. How is it we have only one provider.”
She says that in 2018, the Center referred or tried to refer about 90 to 100 patients to detox at PIW, but there was no available spot for roughly one in 15 of them.
PIW says that it is unclear whether the increased number of detox patients they received is due to Providence closing. It may also be because of population growth and the current state of the opioid epidemic. A combination of these factors may have ultimately resulted in more people in D.C. dealing with addiction.
For those who cannot receive treatment from an inpatient program, the emergency room is perhaps the only other option. If someone in the family is addicted look for an addiction treatment facility nearby and learn more about how drug rehab works. Not all patients require inpatient treatment, as all cases are different. The most important thing is to seek medical help.
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