How the “Warm Hand-Off” Helps People Get into Opiate Addiction Treatment

The “warm hand-off” is a program used in Pennsylvania emergency departments. It has been designed to help overdose survivors gain access to the important follow-up care they need. When patients are stable, this program hands them over directly from emergency to a drug treatment program, like opiate substance abuse treatment.

opiate addiction treatment

Why Is the Warm Hand-Off Necessary?

When a person leaves the emergency room directly after they receive treatment for a drug overdose, they have a very high risk of repeat overdose. If programs get patients directly into opiate addiction treatment, the risk is avoided entirely. They don’t have a chance to hit the street and start using again.

This isn’t an unusual tactic in the medical field. If a person has a massive heart attack, doctors don’t give them the phone number of a cardiologist and tell them to call during business hours to set-up an appointment. No. they begin the next level of care immediately. This program takes that model and applies it to drug users and opiate addiction treatment.

Why Now?

The drug Naloxone is being used more and more often to save the lives of people experiencing an opiate overdose. According to an article on PennLive, Pennsylvania police have used the drug to reverse over 1,200 opiate overdoses since November of 2014. This indicates the seriousness of the crisis. Naloxone temporarily reverses an overdose but it doesn’t save lives long-term; only opiate substance abuse treatment can do that.

What Does a Warm Hand-Off Program Do?

Rather than giving recent victims of an overdose the number of a rehab center, they directly transfer patients from the hospital into a treatment program. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs requires country drug and alcohol authorities to “develop, implement, and maintain a plan for screening, assessment, treatment and tracking of overdose survivors to obtain immediate, appropriate and seamless care.”

Do You Need Outpatient Opiate Addiction Treatment or Inpatient Opiate Substance Abuse Treatment? What Factors Help You Make This Decision?

There are inescapable choices that need to be made before you look seriously at attending an opiate addiction treatment program. You will need to make sure that it is financially possible. You will need to determine whether or not you remain local or go abroad. And, you will need to decide between and inpatient center and an outpatient opiate substance abuse treatment facility.

Likely, you will want to pick the form of rehab that will get you the best results. But, there is no general rule of thumb that can be followed during your considerations. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes: “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.” The type of care that you need will depend upon the specific circumstances surrounding our opiate use disorder.

Inpatient Opiate Addiction Treatment Might Be Right for You

For some people, inpatient treatment is the option most likely to retain them in treatment and to keep them engaged. This is often the case when:

  • Patients need space from their families to focus on their treatment
  • Patients need space from their various responsibilities to focus on their treatment
  • Patients lack a stable living situation
  • Patients must remain in a drug and alcohol free environment in order to succeed in their abstinence
  • Patients live with people who also have substance abuse problems

Outpatient Opiate Substance Abuse Treatment Might Be Right for You

For other people, outpatient treatment is the form most likely to lead to positive outcomes. This is often the case when:

  • Patients lack the funds necessary to pay for inpatient treatment
  • Patients have familial responsibilities they cannot fail to perform
  • Patients cannot miss work or school
  • Patients need regular access to their support system of friend and family


When deciding what will be right for you, consider the services, intervention, and setting of the treatment. Make sure that it matches your specific problems and needs.

Did Your Tendency to be Competitive Put You in Opiate Addiction Treatment and Will It Undermine Your Progress in Opiate Substance Abuse Treatment?

opiate substance abuse treatment

We live in a culture that encourages people to compare themselves with others. We do it to gauge or achievements and to motivate us to try harder, to pressure ourselves to achieve. We are keeping up with the Joneses. But, that level of competition breeds unhappiness. Think of all of the carefully curated social media profiles you encounter. How many of them make the lives of other people seem magical compared to yours? For users who turn to opiates to fill a mental or emotional void, competition drives that urge.

When you finally make the choice to enter professional opiate addiction treatment, you may bring your competitive nature with you and continuing comparison to peers can damage the trajectory of your recovery. You need to make yourself the priority when you are in opiate substance abuse treatment.

What Does It Mean to Be Competitive?

In modern times, achievement is tied to our personal value and to our self-esteem. This is why competition is seen as a positive endeavor; it drives people to achieve more. When you are competitive, you determine your worth in comparison to others and you are compelled to be better than you believe other to be.

How Does a Competitive Nature Lead to Opiate Abuse?

When your value is determined in comparison to others, it is likely that your self-esteem will suffer. Over time, you will begin to feel that you are a failure, and often people alleviate these feelings by using drugs, like opiates. The numb that accompanies a high can help silence the voices telling you that you aren’t measuring up. These are the voices that tell you second place is first loser.

How Can Being Competitive Disrupt Opiate Addiction Treatment?

When you are in opiate substance abuse treatment, your competitive nature may make you look at the progress other people are making and disdain that your recovery doesn’t look the same. This puts a lot of unnecessary stress on you to speed through the rehab process. You need to remain focused on yourself and your needs or you will burn out before you reach a point of sustainable abstinence. You may trigger an early relapse because you put too much pressure on yourself.

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