New Care Model Improves Addiction Treatment

A new addiction treatment program levers the observation that although people are admitted to the hospital for a variety of reasons, many may also have an active substance use disorder.

A new program at Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction, connects patients to addiction treatment while they are hospitalized for other conditions. Researchers believe the intervention can be a powerful tool in closing a gap in addiction treatment.

In fact, early results show that many of these patients continue treatment after they are discharged, underscoring the importance of reaching patients who might otherwise not get treatment for their addiction.

Researchers found that approximately 17 percent of patients admitted at Boston Medical Center have an active substance use disorder. This discovery led providers to look for new ways to engage patients in addiction treatment when they were already here.

To accomplish this, they developed and implemented an inpatient addiction consult service — staffed by a multidisciplinary care team with expertise in treating addiction.

The study appears in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

“In order to help curb the epidemic, we need to take every opportunity to engage patients with substance use disorders and get them into treatment when they are ready,” said study lead author Paul Trowbridge, M.D..

“This service will not only prove beneficial to patients, by helping them get access to evidenced-based treatment, but also to the health care system by reducing costs and readmissions.”

Researchers found the initial results promising: Methadone treatment was initiated for 70 patients and 76 percent were linked to a methadone clinic upon discharge. Upon follow up, 54 percent were still receiving methadone at 30 days, 39 percent at 90 days, and 29 percent at 180 days.

Buprenorphine was initiated in 40 patients as a result of the consult, and 49 percent were linked to an outpatient clinic at discharge. Upon follow up, 39 percent were still engaged in treatment at 30 days, 27 percent at 90 days, and 18 percent at 180 days.

“Like heart disease can cause a heart attack or a stroke, addiction causes many acute injuries requiring immediate attention, but we can’t simply treat that issue without delving deeper to address the root cause,” said Alex Walley, M.D., MSc.

“Our goal is to engage willing patients in treatment and work with them on a plan that will keep them healthy and safe now and in the future.”

The authors note that treatment is not one size fits all and that there is a need for additional treatment programs and services that meet the needs of even more patients both in the short and long term.

Source: Boston Medical Center/EurekAlert