Dying While Waiting to Go to Rehab
Drug abuse is a massive problem in the United States. With that come more people who want to go to rehab, but less availability. In states like New Hampshire that have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, some addicts have to wait months for a bed at a treatment center.
Staffers for Democrats in the U.S. Senate released a 28-page “Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Gap” that calls for increased funding for treatment centers to help make extra help available and prevent more deaths. According to their report, which highlights five states including New Hampshire, current funding proposals will not contribute enough to adequately help the situation.
The Holding Pattern Before Rehab Is Killer
When people are ready to get sober, it means they have hit their bottom. They are desperate. Timely action is necessary. When a person or their loved ones finally make the call to get them the help they need, there is little that is more discouraging than being told they will be put on a waiting list for an undisclosed amount of time. In reality, it can be days, weeks, or even months.
During that time people are in heightened danger. If weeks go by without treatment, they will feel a sense of discouragement and lose hope. They are likely to feel like giving up. On the other hand, lots of addicts tend to go all-out when they know they’ll go to rehab. This is insanely dangerous even if it is just a few days, but if it extends into weeks or months, the consequences are often deadly.
A Parent’s Biggest Fear Actualized
Dan and Lorraine’s son Patrick had struggled with drugs since he was 12 years-old. By the time he was 22, he was deep into his heroin addiction. He spent his teenage years in and out of detox centers and psych facilities but had never gone into long-term treatment.
After an overdose that wasn’t his first but nearly cost him his life, family and friends held an intervention in the hopes that they would get through to Patrick. When it worked, they were in awe, and ecstatic. This was just what he needed to turn his life around and start building a future for him.
Dan and Lorraine had a list of rehab facilities ready to call. Some of whom they had already spoken to. They hopped on the phone, excited to get Patrick in immediately. Everywhere they called, they were told beds were full and Patrick would have to wait a few days or even a week. Discouraged but hopeful, they put his name on the waiting list.
Patrick’s reaction was “see, no one wants to help me anyway.” He had long been struggling with depression that was magnified by his drug use. In despair, his parents offered him to stay with them instead of on the streets. The first two days went well.
On the third, Patrick left sometime in the evening and returned at about 6am. His younger sister opened his door at noon to make sure he was okay and found him lifeless on the floor. At 22, Patrick had overdosed and died. Three days later, one of the treatment centers called to say they had a bed available.
Preventing Danger During the Wait to Go to Rehab
This story shows how fateful just a few days can be. It shows how there is a blatant need for more treatment. However, there are things that can be done to ensure that a person gets into treatment rapidly.
Patrick’s parents could have done a couple of things. First of all, they could have expanded their search from out of their home state. Florida is a perfect example of a place that has a lot of treatment options to offer but people from the North or West may not be fully aware. It may seem scary to send someone that far from home, but it can be the best thing for him or her.
Another thing that can be done is looking into places like detox centers that may be more immediately available. Addicts need to detox when they first quit drugs or alcohol, so they may as well visit a comprehensive facility. Detox facilities can hold patients for up to a week or so before transferring them into treatment.
Finally, it is important to keep the addict away from temptation and a sense of discouragement. While of course, this is easier said than done, steps can be taken to help keep an addict safe. Enlisting loved ones to help be with them around the clock can help, as can taking away car keys, access to money, their phone, and anything else that may be a way for them to get their substance of choice.
Help is out there. Determination and persistence are important. When it comes to recovery, no one should give up. Hopefully, funding will continue to be given so that more treatment will be available for addicts in every region.