“I am the point man in the emergency department for our ED Bridge program. ED Bridge is my first foray into Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). I am one of those physicians who used to consider opioid addiction a test of will: ‘If you don’t like it, just quit.’ I saw opioid withdrawal as safe, miserable but medically safe compared to alcohol or benzodiazepines. I did not believe in methadone or opiate-based withdrawal programs.
“I had a change of mindset as I further investigated the problem. It’s a lot more than just saying ‘This guy is weak.’ I found online forums for people with opioid use disorder (OUD). I read their comments about their experiences with addiction and their success with buprenorphine and suboxone. These people are helping each other and they are getting better together.
“OUD changes the chemistry of the brain. Like any other disorder, it requires constant treatment, to fight the urge to use and also to fight the fear of withdrawal. MAT is the best way is to give patients the best opportunity to have a productive life despite having a disorder.
“Our ED Bridge program is new and growing, with our ED Navigator Wendy Martinez and leadership across the hospital including Dr. Carol Lee, Dr. Edward Pillar, Dr. Rodney Borger and Dr. Andrew Lowe. The main problem now is the lack of community providers of MAT to refer to. I have induced people in the ED, and was able to connect one patient to ongoing MAT so far. In the hospital, our maternity department has successfully connected new mothers to MAT with their short-term case management services. We are ready to do much more for our patients and the community.”