After an intervention, most people suffering from addiction need to be in an effective treatment program in order to make a full recovery. For many addicts in North Carolina, however, this is no longer an option. The Charlotte News & Observer reports that the new state budget has reduced funding to three state-run substance abuse treatment centers by almost $5 million annually for the next two years. Addicts without the money for private care may not be able to get the treatment that they need.
As a result of the reduction of the amount of formal addiction treatment available, emergency rooms have seen an uptick in the number of addicts looking for help. According to the North Carolina Hospital Association, the average length of stay in ERs is 16 hours, up 68 percent from 2010. Until hospital staff can find a rehabilitation center to take them, patients wait in the emergency room taking up beds that could be used by others.
"If they're going through withdrawal or if they have a real physical issue, they [can] be treated," said Earl Marett, director of the Johnston County, North Carolina Department of Social Services, to the News and Observer. "But they need a lot more than that. They need to work through their problems. And that part is not really available […] anymore."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that addicts be treated in a formal rehabilitation program for at least three months to reduce their risk of relapsing. Public health officials in North Carolina are calling on the state to restore funding.