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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Holding Patients for Opioid Addiction

Desperate times call for desperate measures! This saying applies quite well to the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic. The governor of Massachusetts has introduced a bill that would give doctors the ability to hold people involuntarily for substance use disorder treatment, The Wall Street Journal reports. If passed, the legislation would limit the amount of opioids a patient can receive for first-time prescriptions.

“I’ve never seen anything with the kind of negative momentum that this particular issue has,” said Gov. Charlie Baker at a news conference last week. “When you think about the fact that we’ve tripled the number of people in the past four years who’ve died of an opioid overdose – in the short term, the goal here has to be to disrupt the trend.” 

The state of Massachusetts has seen a dramatic rise in opioid related overdose deaths in recent years. In 2014, according to state figures there were 1,256 opioid overdose deaths. When you consider that doctors can hold patients at risk of hurting themselves or others for mental illness, it stands to reason that holding a person who is at a high risk of overdose could ultimately save lives. The hold would be for 72 hours in duration, according to the article.

The legislation is still under review by the Massachusetts House and Senate leaders.

“I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues in the House, the Baker administration and all stakeholders to ensure that addiction is treated as a disease rather than a choice, and that we are providing the most effective support for individuals battling substance addiction,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

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