When three 13-year-old boys were sickened by the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl at a Hartford middle school on Jan. 13, it was a shocking reminder of the human toll of the opioid crisis. One of the boys later died and a sweep of the school surfaced 40 small plastic bags of the drug. Later that same day, dozens of people spoke out against a proposal to locate a methadone clinic on a commercial street on the New Haven-Hamden border. During the ongoing battle with COVID-19, there seems to be less attention being paid to opioid addiction, advocates say.
William Evans grew up in Brookfield, a high school tennis player from a family with an Ivy League pedigree. By the time he was working at his first job after college, he was addicted to opioids, spending $25,000 in less than a year and driving to Philadelphia twice a week to buy drugs on the street. Now 37, Evans hasn’t used illegal drugs since 2006. He is married and has a 3-year-old daughter, a home in Trumbull, and a sales job at a software company. He attributes his sobriety to counseling and medication to treat his addiction.
As the opioid epidemic deepens, Yale researchers say starting treatment with medication is the most cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency departments. People with opioid addiction often seek treatment in EDs for overdoses and other ailments. Those who receive buprenorphine, a medication that reduces drug cravings, in the ED incur lower health care costs over the following month than those who get a referral to treatment services or receive a brief intervention with a facilitated referral, according to a new analysis of a randomized clinical trial. The analysis, published today in the journal “Addiction,” compared the estimated health care costs for patients over the 30 days following their ED visit. Those costs included ED care, addiction treatment, inpatient and outpatient costs and medications.
People addicted to drugs such as heroin, morphine and prescription pain medicine who receive treatment with medication in hospital emergency departments fare better than those who are merely referred to treatment services, according to new research from the Yale School of Medicine. Researchers have conducted the first known random trial comparing three treatment strategies for people dependent on opioids who seek emergency care. The opioids include hydrocodone and oxycodone, in addition to heroin and morphine. Among the more than 300 people in the trial, patients in emergency departments who received buprenorphine, a medication that reduces opioid cravings, had greater success than those treated in other ways, researchers found. Opioid addicts often seek care in hospital emergency departments for overdoses or other issues, according to researchers.