There are many thousands of emergency room visits around the country that happen each year that somehow involve prescription painkillers. Unfortunately, many of these patients either go undetected or little is said or done to encourage them to seek treatment.
A team of researchers recently examined a form of brief intervention called motivational interviewing and its use among prescription opioid users in an ER. Their findings, which appeared in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, indicated that spending the time with these patients had a positive impact on both their drug taking as well as associated behaviors.
“It’s very promising that we see a reduction in risky behavior with this brief, one-time intervention, among people who weren’t seeking treatment for their opioid use but had a history of non-medical use of these drugs,” commented lead researcher Amy Bohnert.of the University of Michigan Medical School.
Motivational interviewing is a form of therapy that works with patients to help them decide they want to make a change in their lives. It is not threatening, coercive or judgmental, but instead gets people to examine their situations and desire to improve.
The researchers found that after six months, those who went through a single 30-minute motivational interview session had a 40.5 percent reduction in behaviors that raised their risk of an overdose, on average, compared with a 14.7 reduction among those who didn’t get the session. They also had a 50 percent average reduction in non-medical use of opioids, compared with 39.5 percent reduction in the comparison group.
This is a great example of how there are many opportunities to use various forms of interventions on substance abusers. Emergency rooms provide the captive attention and medical expertise to try and help mitigate prescription opioid abuse. Hopefully more people with prescription drug problems will be referred to treatment so they can get the specific type of help they need.