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Connecting People with Substance Use Disorders to Life-Changing, Effective Treatment

Highlights

Michael Curci Image: German Lopez/Vox

What if we treated addiction like any other medical condition and built addiction treatment into the rest of the health care system, including in emergency rooms? As the country deals with an opioid epidemic, PHI's California Bridge program is showing that ER addiction treatment programs are not only possible, but that they work.

2.2K+ people have entered ongoing addiction treatment during the first nine months of the CA Bridge, as a result of the care initiated in emergency rooms,

When Michael Curci still used opioid painkillers and heroin, he didn’t see himself living beyond his mid-20s. “I didn’t even think I was going to make it,” Curci told reporter German Lopez, author of a Vox news article featuring PHI’s California Bridge. “Despite an opioid crisis, most ERs don’t offer addiction treatment. California is changing that.”

Curci was a patient at the El Dorado County clinic where he receives treatment for opioid addiction. “I didn’t think I was going to have any type of future,” he said. Curci is now 28. The moment that helped him survive came in October 2017, when he went to an emergency room to seek treatment for addiction.

Unlike most hospitals in the US, Marshall Medical Center, an hour’s drive east of Sacramento, provided him with real treatment—particularly, buprenorphine, a highly effective medication that treats opioid addiction by mitigating withdrawal and cravings for the drugs.

For Curci, the approach has worked after years of drug use, parties, doctor-shopping to get painkiller prescriptions, and even prison time due to two robberies meant to help get money for more drugs.

There have been setbacks and one brief relapse since Curci got into treatment, but “now I know I’m going to have a future,” he said. “Now I know that I can do these types of things. I can have a job. I can do whatever I want with my life.”

As a result of the care initiated in emergency rooms, 2288 people have entered ongoing addiction treatment during the first nine months of the CA Bridge Program.

Read more about Michael’s story on Vox.

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