Families of loved ones treated in our emergency department for overdoses or other substance use problems once begged us to get these patients into treatment programs. All they wanted was to help them get treatment — and stay alive. For years there wasn’t much our emergency medicine team could do. Now there is: We’ve added recovery coaches.
For years we would hand patients or their family members a packet of papers with information and phone numbers for treatment centers and, essentially throwing our arms in the air, urged them to start making calls. If they were lucky enough to have private insurance, their chances of finding a placement were good and maybe they got the help they needed. For those who had Medicaid or no insurance at all —which is the vast majority of these patients — their odds were much slimmer.