Study: Referral for Addiction During Hospitalization Could Reduce Relapse

This week The Boston Globe reported on new research that looked at the effectiveness of interventions for people with substance use disorder who had been hospitalized.

Researchers from Boston Medical Center, in collaboration with Butlet Hospital in Rhode Island, divided 139 hospitalized patients with opioid addiction into two groups. None of the patients were actively seeking treatment. Both received medication to detoxify, but only one group received referral information for community treatment programs. 

The referral group compared to the detoxification only group had a substantially higher success rate of abstaining from opioid use: more than one-third reported zero days of use versus less than one-tenth of the detox group.

“'[O]ur results show that we can have a marked impact on patient’s addiction by addressing it during their hospitalization.’said Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, a physician in general internal medicine at BMC and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who served as the study’s corresponding author, in a prepared statement.”

The researchers recommend that hospitals implement a systematic method to screen for substance abuse, maintain a referral network and create a “substance use consulting team.”

The study was published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Learn more about Polaris’s cloud-based Health Evaluation and Referral Assessment system and the Substance Treatment and Referral System. Both are designed for health care settings, including emergency departments, and address the recommendations for behavioral health screening and referral to treatment from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies.