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Substance Use Disorder (SUD):
Coordinated and Continuing Care for
Individuals and Families


The Problem

  • SUD is a chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease with episodes of crisis.

  • Individuals who are in crisis from substance misuse often cross paths with professionals in emergency rooms, detox facilities, and jails.

  • Unfortunately, individuals are often treated as just being drunk or under the influence of drugs, with no consideration of the chronic nature of SUD.

  • As a result, the opportunity to treat chronic SUD is lost, even when individuals are highly motivated to change their behavior and recover from the disease.

  • Healthcare, law enforcement, and treatment professionals recognize this failure and want to improve care and outcomes.


How can we do better?

   For Individuals with SUD

  • Change the standard continuum of care. CPFHR has proposed changes (see Diagram 1) after discussions with many professionals, families, and individuals with SUD.

  • Focus on a multipronged approach to managing SUD:

    • Work together as a single team that understands the complexities of addiction.

    • Encourage staff to get more training and certification.

    • Choose the most highly trained staff to work with individuals with SUD.

    • Prioritize hiring to add more specially trained staff.

  • Start a “pre-programming” recovery process while in the ER, detox facility, or jail, with placement in a treatment facility as a goal.

  • Use a professional “navigator” to help individuals transition acute care into the extremely dangerous period between discharge and entering a treatment facility. No one should have to do this alone.

  • Utilize peer recovery professionals and peer volunteers – people in recovery who know what it is like to have SUD.


   For Family and Loved Ones

  • SUD is a family disease, and these times of crisis and transition are also difficult for families.

  • They may not know what to expect or how to provide support when their loved one returns from detox, jail, or the ER.

  • They may not know that recovery for the family is possible and can be very important, or that resources are available.

  • CPFHR has suggested some ways that families could be assisted during times of crisis (see Diagram 2).

  • Looking forward:

    • Our research projects will study the experiences and needs of children and caregivers.

    • We are working toward offering family support groups.

    • We are developing a caregiver "toolkit.”

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