FREEHOLD, N.J.Nov. 5, 2019  /PRNewswire/ –The nation spent $35 billion annually on addiction treatment, and  had little to show for it, as the opioid epidemic ballooned over two decades claiming nearly 200 lives each day.

“Although treatment availability expanded over the years, it was more of the same inpatient treatment, which largely failed because it was based on the assumption that addiction was a behavioral issue,” said Dr. Indra Cidambi, a nationally recognized Addiction Expert and Medical Director of New Jersey-based outpatient detox facility Center for Network Therapy. “Addiction is a chronic disease and outpatient treatment should be the default option as it not only delivers better outcomes, it is also cost-effective,” added Dr. Cidambi.

Until recently, addiction was viewed as a behavioral problem, and acute phases of treatment, detoxification and rehabilitation, were provided in an inpatient setting which also increased stigma associated with addiction. “The thought process was to isolate the individual suffering from addiction to learn new behavioral patterns that could be applied in their living environment,” noted Dr. Cidambi.

Science has proved that addiction is a disease as it causes the brain to change – the brain does not release enough dopamine (feel good neurotransmitter) in response to normal stimuli such as hobbies or sex and relies on substance use to trigger large quantities of dopamine. It takes 2-3 years for the brain to revert back to normal functioning after an individual enters recovery, leaving them susceptible to relapses. Consequently, addiction is now recognized as a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment.

“The treatment community has largely remained stagnant in its approach to addiction,” commented Dr. Cidambi. The vast majority of the acute phases of treatment, detoxification and rehabilitation, is still delivered in an inpatient setting emphasizing behavioral changes rather than helping the patient stay sober in their living environment. “The inpatient approach to treatment is dated, as progress in medication assisted treatment (MAT) has made outpatient detoxification a safe and more effective option,” she continued.

“I have provided Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification for alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines and opiates for 6+ years, and results have been better than inpatient treatment due to integration of the living environment into treatment,” said Dr. Cidambi. With treatment costs for addiction spiraling, it would behoove employers, unions and employee assistance programs (EAPs) to leverage the Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification option to not only lower costs but also to boost outcomes and help de-stigmatize the disease of addiction.

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