Over the past 15 years overdose deaths related to a commonly prescribed medicine have quadrupled in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2014 alone, according to the CDC, more than 28,600 Americans died from overdoses of opioid prescription drugs such as OxyContin or Vicodin. Opioid addiction killed more than 2,600 Texans in that same year.
In response to a local need for addiction treatment, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center will open the area’s first inpatient addiction treatment program next week.
“Sometimes we have people who would call and say ‘I’m looking for help’ and we didn’t have a program to offer them,” said Sherri Williams, GRMC Chief Operating Officer. “So, it’s nice to able to meet that community need. And honestly, I think every community has that need.”
Opening Wednesday, Oct. 5, GRMC’s new “One-Eighty” program, will provide treatment for those patients who have committed to withdrawing from alcohol, opioids, cocaine or benzodiazepines.
Over the course of 25 years in nursing, Williams’ said she witnessed how widespread prescription addiction really is.
“When I was a new nurse I had a very stereotypical idea in my mind of what a person with addiction looked like, but in reality it is not true,” Williams said. “There is the mom of five children who is addicted to cocaine or pain killers and possibly nobody in her life knows that’s going on. It may be the lawyer, the nurse, the physician, the mother, the businessman or anyone. It’s across all walks of life, all races, all ages, all genders and it is so devastating to the families.”
Patients seeking treatment through GRMC’s One-Eighty program, would not be isolated to a particular “addiction” wing, but rather treated as any other patient with an illness, she said.
“We treat them just like any other patient, they have an illness — addiction is their illness,” she said. “We treat them just like anybody else, with the same dignity and respect that every patient deserves. That is our philosophy.”
One-Eighty will focus on helping patients through the first three days of withdrawal which, depending on the substance abused, can be a life-threatening period of time, Williams said.
After the program is over, Tim O’Niell, the care coordinator, can arrange a long term treatment plan for those patients in need of additional help.
“As the only hospital in our county, and as a regional hospital serving over six counties, GRMC is privileged to care for local patients and families in their time of need,” said Robert Haynes, GRMC Chief Executive Officer. “Our scope of care includes many services, including emergency, medical, surgical, obstetrical, cardiac, rehabilitation, mental health services and more. Now we will add this new important component for acute withdrawal for individuals who need professional support to help them return to a healthy life.”
The new program will accept all types of insurance including medicare, medicaid and commercial insurance providers.
For more information about the program contact Tim O’Niell at 830-401-6180.