New Jersey Expands Role of Paramedics for Opioid Victims

Take note! There’s a new development in addiction medicine, which the Washington correspondent for Stat News calls “a potential paradigm shift” and a “bold program”. And New Jersey is the first state in the country to put it into practice.

Here’s how it plays out. Paramedics rush to the scene to assist someone who has overdosed on opioids. The goal of this life-and-death task is to revive that person. They use Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, for this purpose. Hopefully, they accomplish that mission and prepare to depart. But… wait! In light of a recent ruling, they can do even more. Not only can paramedics assist in saving lives, but also start the person on the road to recovery. They may stay on to offer the individual another valuable substance immediately, which would help in a number of ways.

Breaking Ground in NJ

This move stems from recent action by the New Jersey health commissioner. It comes in the form of a new Executive Directive. According to it, the medical directors of the state’s 21 Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) programs have authority to go further in these situations. They can empower their paramedics to take the next step, which is to administer an opioid treatment. To do so, paramedics would carry buprenorphine. They would offer this medication, known by its brand name Suboxone, to overdose survivors on the spot. Taken orally, this substance helps lessen the effects of getting off opioids and more.

The health commissioner explained the rationale for this concept. He stated: “Buprenorphine is a critical medication that doesn’t just bring folks into recovery – it can also dampen the devastating effects of opioid withdrawal.” He added: “That’s why equipping EMS professionals with this drug is so important.”

This initiative thus serves two purposes. It enhances the physical comfort level of people after revival. It also – and hopefully this is the case – may put them on the path to long-term treatment for opioid addiction.

Heralding this First-In-The-Nation Model

What do addiction experts say about this effort that New Jersey is forging? A professor, who studies the opioid epidemic at the University of California at San Francisco, weighed in on it. “This comes out of left field, and it’s very interesting,” he said. He went on to note that this one-two approach of naloxone, followed by buprenorphine, is “as well-meaning and patient-centric a manner as possible.” And, again in his words: “It’s a potentially brilliant idea.”

In emergency rooms at some hospitals, doctors are using this method. First they focus on reversing the effects of an overdose for patients. Then they promptly begin opioid addiction treatment with an approved substance. On expanding this capability to paramedics, the Cape May Herald claimed it “is a new frontier…”

When did this new order go into effect in the state? The same source answered that question with one word: immediately. It reported that this program is in response to the “ongoing public health crisis due to opioid use disorder.” In New Jersey last year, more than 3,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

A Source to Turn to for Longer-Term Treatment

For those struggling with opioid addiction, who may benefit by New Jersey’s new program and all others, a recovery center is here for you. Sunrise House, located in Sussex County, has everything you need.

This facility offers a full continuum of care. Do you need medical detox? It’s done here. So is residential treatment. That’s only part of it; this rehab also provides a full range of outpatient services. That includes a partial hospitalization program (PHP) as well as intensive outpatient (IOP) and standard outpatient (OP) programs. You receive any or all of this on a customized treatment basis at this oasis in the countryside.

Part of the trusted American Addiction Centers nationwide network, Sunrise House says, “Your Recovery Begins Here.” So sure clients achieve their goal, the center gives a guarantee. Complete the 90 day treatment program successfully and you will remain clean and sober. It not, come back for an additional 30 days of treatment – free of charge. Visit our admissions page to start the process of reclaiming your life.


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