By David Eisenberger and Jenny DiTomasso
Many people don’t know what detox covers, or what programs are available in the state. Furthermore, there is no clear policy at the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency for 911 calls concerning alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction is a chronic relapse illness.
A pilot “diversion” program is now getting underway said Dr. Nicholas Zeller, immunologist at Miriam Hospital, Dr. Josiah Rich of Miriam Hospital, and Jill Reuter, media relations ofﬁcer of Lifespan.
The plan is somewhat in its infancy, but in the future it is expected to be a collaboration of Rhode Island Hospital, the Department of Public Safety, the police and ﬁre departments, EMTs, and Lifespan. The program would be funded by the Open Society Institute.
The goal of the program is to come up with an efﬁcient ﬁnancial and communications strategy to address the treatment gap. Now, the Rhode Island Department of Health is setting up a protocol for EMTs to screen, access, and determine a patient’s health status in order to determine if the patient needs to enter a detox program to address an addiction.
People without health insurance have limited options for treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol. There are 13 methadone clinics in the state. The cost of treatment is $90 a week.
Although there is a sliding scale for payment funded by the Rhode Island Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals (MHRH), slots for the residential programs are often limited due to limited funding and long waiting lists.
The only state-funded detox center is run by STARR. Rather than a treatment center, STARR offers a period for the clients to be weaned off the substance, usually for stay of ﬁve to seven days. Then they are discharged.
The Providence Center accepts people without health insurance. The Providence Center’s detox program varies in length depending on the type and severity of the patient’s addiction.
Only one out of ﬁve people receives treatment for addiction. The Rhode Island Council on Addiction offers education and referrals. Its hotline, accessible around the clock, is 866-ALC-DRUG (1-866-252-3784).