By David Joel Miller.
Hospital emergency rooms are filling up with people under the influence.
This is causing a whole lot of problems for hospitals, the emergency room staff, and society in general. There is no special reason why someone needs to go to a hospital because they are drunk or high unless they also have a medical or psychiatric emergency.
They end up there because of the other problems drug and alcohol use cause to the person and to society. Often this happens because there is just no other place to send them. Hospitals do not function as an extension of law enforcement and patient privacy is strongly enforced so unless you are in prison when the emergency occurs don’t worry about seeking help because of the legal consequences.
People who are drunk or high are a lot more likely to slip, fall or otherwise injure themselves. The emergency room staff is used to this and unless you broke some major law like hitting someone while driving drunk and you are already in custody, their goal is to get you patched up and out of there.
Some under-the-influence people really really need to be in the hospital.
If someone has the Delirium Tremens (DT’s), they need to be in the hospital, this is life-threatening. But most drunks are just a pain to the workers in the ER. They argue, try to go places and do things that just get in the way.
Heroin and other opiate abusers need an injection to reverse the effects of the overdose, but most enlightened emergency responders carry the injection to do this on the ambulance so that by the time the patient reaches the hospital the emergency is over.
Drunks are most problematic because the alcohol impairs their judgment. They are often suicidal or violent. No not everyone who drinks gets suicidal or violent but many suicidal people abuse substances. A binge drinker is 55 times more likely to attempt suicide than a non-drinker.
Substance abusers make up a significant proportion of admissions to psychiatric facilities. While they are under the influence they are prone to be violent and irresponsible. Some of them are still suicidal or violent after the drugs and alcohol wear off and need further treatment.
Since we don’t know if the current psychiatric problem is only a result of the substance or do they have these issues at other times. Most suicidal, self-harming or violent people who are under the influence end up staying until the drugs and alcohol wear off and they can rationally answer questions about their behavior and intent.
One very effective approach to this overflow of under-the-influence people filling up the hospital ER’s has been the creation of sobering centers.
Situated close to the hospital and under the supervision of medical staff, trained Para-professionals such as substance abuse counselors and mental health professionals can screen patients for medical necessity and supervise detoxification. These systems have worked well. Unfortunately, when budgets get tight, detox, as well as other services for substances abusers and the mentally ill, get cut.
At the time the need is the greatest detox and sobering centers are the most likely to get cut and throw their work back on the already overused ER’s.
Hospitals are also seeing a surge in irrational people as a result of synthetic drug use. (See 7 new drugs parents should be aware of.) Sometimes that psychosis goes away once they detox but other times it seems to be long-term and results in a psychiatric hospital admission. Professionals are debating whether the new drugs are creating the psychosis or just a stressor that causes the first occurrence of the disorder.
I am convinced that drug use is damaging some brains and creating mental illness which would not have occurred without the drug use. I understand not everyone agrees with this position.
So the conclusion to all this is that if you or someone around you is drunk or high and there appears to be a medical or psychiatric emergency you should go to the hospital and get checked out and do not worry about the police finding out about this as a result of your visit. If there is no medical or psychiatric problem and no past history of problems most people do not need to go to the hospital. When in doubt call 911, the doctor or hospital first, not your therapist or the social worker.
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch.
If you have gone through a divorce, break up or lost a job you may have found your life off track.
Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Bumps on the Road of Life is available in both Kindle and paperback formats.
The robbers wanted more than money; they planned to kill Arthur’s fiancé and her boss.
Arthur Mitchell was trying to start his life over with a fiancé and a new job. Then the casino robbers shoot Arthur, kill his fiancée, and her boss. Arthur would like to forget that horrible day, but the traumatic nightmares and constant reminders won’t let him, and someone is still out to get him. When he tries to start over by running a rural thrift store, someone knocks him unconscious, vandalize the store, and finally tries to kill him. His only chance to find peace is to figure out what the killers want from him and why. Casino Robbery is available in Kindle and paperback editions.
Other books are due out soon; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.