Medically Complicated Addiction Treatment
YET again, Adam was in the emergency room after a drug overdose. He had been suffering from his Crohn’s disease since he was eleven years old, and the pain medicines that helped him cope for the past 15 years were now killing him, and he knew it. He was desperate for help, but he had been unable to find it. He and his family and called dozens of “top of the line” treatment centers begging for help, on-ly to be turned down each time. Finding someone to help with a medically complicated addiction treatment, was a different story. An initial interview would go well, but as he was becoming hopeful, the conversation became hesitant once he began explaining his medical needs. He would hear “oh, uh, just a minute…I’ll have to clear that with our team.” Then another disappointment as he learned that yet an-other center was not willing to accept him into treatment because of his medically complicated addiction. The only resolution he ever received from his own medical doctors was a change of his opiate regimen or a take home shot of Narcan “just in case.”
45% of Americans suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, renal failure, chronic pain, and diabetes. People with chronic medical issues face far higher levels of stress, pain, discomfort and anxiety related to their conditions. These are exactly the people that are also at a high risk of using alcohol or substance abuse as a means to cope. Added to this is the fact that “go-to” medicines from physicians for people suffering with any chronic illness are addictive opioids or sedatives, and we have a perfect storm creating untold millions of people with medically complicated addiction treatment situations.
The sad fact is that Adam and countless others with chronic medical issues find it extremely difficult to find an addiction treatment center that will accept them because of their medical needs.
Most addiction treatment centers do not have a full time physician on staff while most of the physicians that are available for treatment centers are Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists perform many essential services at treatment centers, but they are ill equipped to handle many chronic or medically complicated issues along with addiction. Some centers do try and address these medical issues along with the addiction treatment, but it is not integrated into treatment. It means emergency room visits for acute problems and outside consultation appointments. These take away precious needed time actually receiving treatment and interfere with needed focus on addiction treatment. Studies have proven the effectiveness of integrating primary medical care into addiction treatment, but the centers that provide this are hard to find.
The list of patients that need a medically complicated addiction treatment is extensive. If 12% of the population suffers from addiction issues, that means that there are at least 80,000 people right now with kidney failure that need treatment. Try finding an addiction treatment facility that will accept you into treatment once they hear of your dialysis schedule! How about the millions with liver disease, infections, brittle diabetes, chronic pain or cancer?
These diseases should exclude no one from needed addiction treatment, medically complicated or not. Very good medical care can be integrated into addiction treatment. Be clear about your medical needs along with your recovery hopes up front. Your search for an addiction treatment facility that that can handle chronic medical issues should be for a center that treats “complex medical addiction treatment” or “integrated medical and addiction care.” Unfortunately, the hospitals that usually treat the medical issues are not equipped or cannot provide the kind of treatment necessary to successfully treat addiction issues. Those with chronic medical issues make addiction treatment both more difficult and more necessary but it is available. Without integration of treatment, the disease issues remain separated from they addiction issues, and recovery will continue to be impossible. The same issues that exacerbate the symptoms of the disease also create the need for a substance to give relief, and the whole person must and can be treated. The result of this kind of treatment will lead to recovery from addiction issues, but also a life that is not identified with the disease process. The symptoms and problems of both the medical problem and the addiction problem are in fact the problems of ONE individual that can and should be treated together.
Dr. Reeves specializes in people with complicated medical issues
Chronic cancer or non-cancer pain
Multiple prior treatment episodes
Complex medical issues with addiction (heart disease, type I DM, liver, kidney, infections, etc)