How new legislation in California can help recovery - Sovereign Health Group
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addiction treatment

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The word “detox” gets thrown around a lot when fad diets and cleanses are being discussed. For people trying to beat substance abuse, it doesn’t involve juices and stretching; rather, it’s the first time in a long time when their bodies relearn how to function without drugs.

medical conditions. Detoxing from amphetamines is nerve-wracking as the body’s nervous system readjusts to life without the stimulant. Heroin withdrawal is infamously difficult; withdrawal from alcohol and tranquilizers such as Xanax can even be life-threatening without medical help.

Complicating detox are the medical conditions often affecting those in detox. Nobody comes into treatment in the best shape of their lives. Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are among the conditions that accompany substance abuse, and the added stresses of detoxing often require medical assistance.

Too often, though, assistance is hampered by regulations. A recent bill in California is removing some stumbling blocks and provides a model for other states.

Medical treatment on-site

Assembly Bill 848 was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown last year. The bill, authored by Mark Stone, D-Monterey Bay, allows doctors and other medical professionals to provide essential medical care for people undergoing detoxification in residential treatment facilities.

Under the bill, patients receive an initial medical screening, medical care, monitoring for other health complications they may have, and access to prescription medications that can make detoxification safer.

Dr. Christy Waters, chair of the California Society of Addiction Medicine’s Public Policy Committee, said in a press release that the new bill will give patients a better chance at recovery. “Until now, an obsolete provision in state law prevented the California Department of Health Care Services from licensing residential treatment programs – that provide detoxification for addiction to alcohol and other drugs – from providing medical services to patients,” said Waters.

Prior to the bill, residential treatment facilities were not allowed to provide a variety of on-site medical services to their patients. Patients and staff had to arrange transportation to various offices, urgent care centers and clinics. In addition to complicating schedules and raising costs, this also removed patients from the order and safety of the treatment facility.

“This bill allows appropriately-licensed detoxification facilities to provide the best possible care for vulnerable people struggling to overcome addictions,” said Stone on his Web page. “People who are working to get sober should have their needs met through the programs where they are seeking help, including medical treatment related to their addiction and recovery.”

Everyone needs help

The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of drug overdoses. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that while 23.1 million people aged 12 and older needed treatment for a drug or alcohol use program, only 2.5 million of them received treatment. Being able to receive needed medical treatment while getting sober will make detoxing easier for those ready to make the step into sobriety.

Sovereign Health of California is a leading treatment provider for substance abuse and mental health. Our professionals use a dual diagnosis approach that treats addiction as well as the underlying mental conditions that often drive substance abuse. We are committed to seeing our patients through recovery and into a sober life. For more information, please contact our 24/7 helpline.

About the Author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at

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