By Bob Shepard
Responding to the growing opiate abuse epidemic, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital has expanded the UAB Medicine Addiction Recovery Program with a 60 percent increase in residential capacity and increased outpatient services by adding staff and admissions availability.
According to the National Institute on Drug Use, drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioid pain relievers have increased dramatically since 1999, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 44 people die in America every day from an overdose of prescription medications, mostly opioids.
“The national trend is reflected here in Alabama, where we have seen an increase in patients presenting to UAB Hospital with opioid addiction or conditions associated with opioid use,” said Jordan DeMoss, associate vice president of UAB Hospital. “We had three patients with an opioid overdose present at the emergency department in a single day last month. The expansion of our addiction recovery program is in direct response to supporting our patients and community with needed treatment resources.”
The residential recovery unit has expanded to 16 beds. Outpatient services have been enhanced with the addition of more nurses trained in addiction recovery, along with an increase in counselors and patient care technicians. Most addiction recovery patients spend about one month in the hospital and two additional months in outpatient therapy.
“We also see patients in our acute care settings who have an underlying addiction in addition to the disease or condition for which they have been hospitalized,” said Peter Lane, D.O., medical director of the Addiction Recovery Program. “We must identify and treat their addiction at the same time we are treating their medical illness to ensure the best chances of recovery.”
The addiction recovery program counselors work to get those patients linked to appropriate treatment, whether it be outpatient substance abuse programs, counseling or inpatient therapy.