Patients struggling with addictions to prescription drugs and heroin often seek care in hospital emergency departments. However, the primary option available for emergency department staff is referral to addiction treatment services. A new study evaluated whether these patients would be more successful in seeking and staying in addiction treatment if they began effective treatment in the emergency department.

Gail D’Onofrio, MD, MS, from the Yale School of Medicine and co-authors enrolled 329 patients with opioid dependence from the emergency department at Yale-New Haven Hospital. One group received a referral to drug treatment. The second group had a brief intervention and referral to treatment. The third was started on buprenorphine, a medication that helps ease withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. This group also followed up in primary care for maintenance therapy. The study appears in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.

To peruse the full study, click here.