(This content is for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
New legislation being pushed to empower EMTs may soon change the way first responders in California help patient get care while trying to ease the overcrowding of emergency rooms. A bill as proposed will allow paramedics to bring a patient to sobering centers and mental health clinics, instead of taking them to the ER. So should EMTs take patients to these alternative facilities to receive more specific forms of care?
Giving EMTs Options
When dealing with a situation, law enforcement personnel are permitted to transport individuals who are intoxicated or experiencing a mental health crisis to sobering centers or mental health clinics if deemed appropriate. Sometimes this is the best place for a patient, depending on the specific circumstances. However, under current state law in California, Emergency Medical Technicians (or EMTs) and paramedics must bring patients to the emergency room.
Some argue that requiring EMTs and paramedics to transport these patients to the ER is not only contributing to overcrowding in emergency rooms but also it is often not the best place for them. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is one of many who believes this is a “common sense” option for EMTs. Hahn states,
“The bottom line is that if people like you and I can take an individual to a sobering center or a mental health urgent care center, why can’t a highly trained medical professional do the same?”
Supervisor Janice Hahn has sponsored the new bill, hoping to give EMTs more options that better serve the individual. Hahn states,
“Our mental health urgent care centers and the sobering center at Skid Row were designed to provide humane, compassionate care, tailored to meet the needs of their patients,”
In cases involving law enforcement, this option allows police to choose specialized facilities instead of booking people in jail. This allows for people who may be dealing with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues to sober up and receive on-the-spot treatment without facing charges. According to Hahn, California paramedics and EMTs have their hands tied, and it is impacting hospitals and individuals.
Assembly Bill 1795
The new legislation is Assembly Bill 1795. This proposal would allow local emergency medical services agencies to lay out plans for transporting patients to:
- Designated behavioral health facilities
- Sobering centers that meet specific standards
Keep in mind, these patients will have to meet specific criteria in order to qualify. The bills recently amended language also states:
The bill would authorize a city, county, or city and county to designate, and contract with, a sobering center to receive patients, and would establish sobering center standards.
However, the bills current language also states that patients can instruct EMTs to take them to the emergency room and that it does not authorize them to initiate an involuntary detention of the patient.
This legislation also has support from Assemblyman Mike Gipson. He wrote an op-ed in February for the Compton Herald to support the measure. Gipson states,
“No one will deny that our emergency rooms are drastically over-crowded. Although they may be well-equipped to handle trauma, disasters or emergency physical health conditions—they are not as well-equipped to serve patients who have mental health care needs or substance abuse problems.”
Recently, Hahn herself planned a trip to Sacramento to advocate for the bill. And she isn’t the only one getting behind it. The bill is also co-sponsored by:
- Los Angeles County
- California Hospital Association
- California Ambulance Association
Another supporter of the proposal is Mitch Katz, the director of the county’s Department of Health Services. Katz points out that not only could this give EMTs the power to take patients to a more suitable facility, but that these options can also be much less expensive than taking patients to an emergency room.
While hospitals, EMTs and paramedics are a crucial part of saving lives in cases of overdose and other emergencies, when it comes to getting people a means to effective treatment unique to their needs, there are better options. Giving EMTs a resource to offer substance abuse and mental health treatment options could make a huge difference in the fight against addiction. Anything that connects people with effective treatment is an important step in the right direction.
We want to hear what you think- should EMTs take patients to sobering centers and/or mental health clinics?
Communities in many other parts of the country have begun to work on better ways to connect people struggling with substance abuse or mental health conditions with specialized treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
looks like fun, huh?
By Cheryl Steinberg
There’s a difference between recreational use and full-on addiction. Those of us who realize this also know that drinking and using drugs isn’t necessarily fun. Here are 7 signs your drinking/drug use has stopped being fun.
#1. People are constantly confronting you about it
Seriously, how much fun are you having when the people closest to you: your family, friends, girlfriend/boyfriend – are ‘nagging’ you about your drinking and drugging? When it’s gotten bad enough that others are noticing and speaking up about it, that’s a sign that you have a problem and that it’s affecting your loved ones – the people you supposedly care the most about. When you see how much it’s hurting them, that can’t be too much fun, either.
#2. You don’t want to do it anymore; you have to do it
One of the glaring signs your drinking/drug use has stopped being fun is that you no longer have a choice in the matter. Rather than wanting to get drunk or high, you need to, in order to avoid terrifying withdrawal symptoms or else to just feel normal. So, tell me, how enjoyable is it to feel like a slave to the substance?
#3. You’re experiencing health problems
You’re constantly waking up feeling like absolute dog sh*t, maybe it’s a head-splitting headache and hangover or it’s being dope sick. Or, you’ve noticed that you’re getting frequent headaches, losing or gaining weight rapidly, have a persistent and nasty couch, constant skin infections from picking at your face, arms, and legs, and so on.
#4. You end up in the hospital
Whether it’s yet another overdose or a gut pain that has you doubled over in the fetal position, thinking you’re dying (it’s really an attack of pancreatitis) that lands you in the hospital, you’re becoming a ‘frequent flyer’ at the Emergency Room and that really sucks. Who wants to spend their time in the hospital? Not really my idea of fun.
#5. There’s no one around anymore
Certainly you’d agree that your substance abuse has stopped being fun when you’re using/drinking by yourself. That’s the thing about substance abuse and addiction; it causes you to become increasingly isolated and lonely.
#6. The alcohol/drugs make you physically sick but you can’t stop
For some of us, the drugs and alcohol started to make us sick but, without them, we were much worse off. So, we kept on drinking and using because we didn’t have another option.
For example, my drug use started with alcohol in high school but, by the time I was in college, alcohol stopped working for me: I couldn’t drink enough to get drunk because even the smallest amounts of it made me feel sick. Then I discovered Tramadol, an opioid. I noticed that, when I took it and then drank, I could drink more and get drunk. Plus, the synergistic effect of the two drugs made it all that much better of a high.
But, again that stopped working and I could no longer drink. I didn’t mind because I had painkillers in my life at this point. Fast forward several years later and I’m shooting pills and heroin. Eventually, I developed a nasty migraine condition that would get worse when I used opiates. But I couldn’t stop using them or I’d get violently dope sick. I was in a no-win situation. That’s such a terrible place to be stuck.
#7. Your drinking/drug use causes mental problems
Although we often turn to alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate our psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety, even auditory hallucinations, eventually, these substances turn on us, making matters way worse. Our mental health only deteriorates; our anxiety increases, our depression becomes even more extreme, psychosis is common – as many of us end up in psych wards, and so on.
If you recognize that you are continuing to drink or use other drugs despite no longer wanting to, it can be a scary realization. The good news is that there is another option rather than continuing your substance abuse. You can stop and recovery is possible. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can tell you all about it and answer all of your questions.
It’s no secret, addiction takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It’s quite common for people like us – recovering addicts – to look back at our time spent in active addiction and cringe at some a lot of the things we did. Take comfort in knowing that, not only is that something you have in common with plenty of others, but also that you are a different person now; the person you were always meant to be.
Here are the terrible things we do in addiction, things such as:
Forgetting where you parked your care and losing it…permanently
Crashing your car while driving drunk/high
Driving drunk/high with your children (and other people’s children) in the care
Getting an account on a sugar daddy website
Having sugar daddies…and telling your children about it
Pimping out women (and you’re a woman) it’s terrible in both scenarios
Pawning your most treasured possessions – and other people’s
Taking out a loan to buy drugs
Purposely writing bad checks to pay for drugs
Shoplifting then selling the merchandise to another store
Stealing your dad’s cop car and uniform to then rob people of their drugs
Leaving your 11 year old child – who flew alone to visit you – waiting at the airport because you’re too drunk to realize what day it is
Going to the ER with a fake story to get drugs
Selling your car for a handful of pills
Keeping your date waiting three hours while you go get high
Stealing your dying grandmother’s medications
Replacing your 5 year old son’s quarters he was saving to buy himself a toy car with nickels and using the money to buy booze
Breaking your own foot/hand with a cinderblock in order to get drugs
Replacing mom’s painkillers with other medication that was potentially dangerous for her to take
Calling cops on your own mom when she withholds your medication
Ripping off other addicts that you know are dope sick to get high
Shooting up another person for the first time
Dumping your friend in the cemetery who’s overdosing
The good news is this: you don’t have to live like that anymore. I know, I know, you probably hear that all the time but it’s true! What we do have to do, though, is forgive ourselves for the terrible things we do in our addiction because holding on to guilt and shame will sabotage your efforts to get and stay clean and sober. Remind yourself that you were suffering from a disease in its active state at that time and commit to being a better person from here on out.
If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or you have a loved one who you suspect is struggling, there is help available. Call us toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist directly, day or night. We are available to answer your questions and help you out with resources. You are not alone.
The following is a true story of something that a friend of mine experienced in the early hours on New Year’s as told by him in his own words. I am grateful to know this man, Nicholas Corsalini, and grateful for his story. I acknowledge him for his honesty and vulnerability in sharing this.
I am so very tired. I cannot fall asleep again. I turn up the bass in my truck and cruise the final 4 miles on my interstate 95 trip to my doorstep. I am unknowingly on a collision path with destiny, my choices, and what it meant to be source. Long before I even knew what any of these things really meant.
I hear these loud noises buzzing by my ears. There it is again. It sounds like a siren. No that’s definitely a horn. I start to witness these red colors burning into the back of my eyelids, swirling around like a dancing watercolor painting. I crack open my eyes to realize that I am on the wrong side of the road separated by a thick 12 foot median that everyone in south Florida is accustomed to. My eyes dart up and out the windshield as I see a set of headlights directly in front of me. My heart races and the only thing I can do is close my eyes again. Nick you can avoid this, CHOOSE.
Silence. It’s a very unsettling feeling to be in the middle of a hurricane. The eye of the storm is a beautiful place to be. I have stood in a few hurricane “eyes” over my years in South Florida and this instance was eerily similar. I was alone in my head. I could tell my body hurt. I could hear glass slowly tumbling down the sides of my crumpled truck. I could smell the faint odor of gasoline and oil all around me. I open my eyes to witness my choices. When I swerved left I slammed into something. It was such a final impact it felt like a tree. I remember thinking exactly at the point of impact saying to myself, “I can’t believe you just hit a tree…”
Everything is fuzzy when I open my eyes. It’s still early morning maybe 6 am and the street lights are still on. I am in the middle of the street and I can’t make out shapes yet. I’ve been drinking all night and I just got in an accident. I am processing these fucking choices that I just can’t seem to avoid. How can they just be one bad choice after another? I get off felony probation in a week. I was facing 5-7 years in prison. I panic and adrenaline kicks into gear and my eyes focus. Everything outside of my truck is lit in an orange luminescence from the street light directly above me.
I didn’t hit a tree. At least any tree I recognize. It looked more like a mid-90’s minivan. And there was very extensive damage to our vehicles. I look down and see that my seatbelt was harnessed around my body. The sheer wonderment that filled me at that moment could have shifted mountains. I never wore it. It was uncool, uncomfortable and I thought I never would need it because I am the best driver that was ever born.
I look at my legs and the dashboard was pushed back by the sheer force of my 59 miles per hour hitting the other drivers 45 miles per hour combining for a 104 mph collision into a brick wall. This accident was head on and there were literally millimeters between my shin bone and the engine block being pushed far enough back that I would have lost my legs. I move my arms, my torso, my neck and everything seems to be in working order.
Now as I process things my automatic in these days were to run, hide and shift accountability to everyone other than myself. So I mustered all my strength as I pulled my legs out of the collapsed cabin of my Chevy S-10 I put myself in the passenger seat and passed back out in a heap of flesh. I just went through a traumatic soul crushing crash while hitting another car and still the only thing working in my brain was my survival context.
The next thing I recall is someone saying, “Are you ok? Where is the driver?” I slurred out, “I don’t know”. The firefighter or paramedic asked again. Asked for his name, and I said “Michael drove”. I actually thought this might work until three seconds later another man’s voice from behind me said, “There is no way anyone walked away from this accident…” At that point I knew it was bad. I passed back out.
I hear more crunching and tearing like I was watching a building fall around me. Glass was pouring down into my hair and face as I was dragged from the wreckage and then a breeze washed over me. It was so refreshing like this was all just a dream. I opened my eyes as they pulled me from my vehicle and the passenger door and roof was partially ripped off like a Campbell soup can. It landed moments later my accident was so bad that they used the “Jaws of Life” to release me from my metal prison. I laugh at the next moment because I remember me being on the stretcher and I had just bought this new $150.00 shirt from Burberry and I watched them pull out the sheers and cut it right down the middle and my mind was yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I pass back out.
I wake up in the X-ray room an hour later and the x-ray techs are yelling at me because it’s taken an hour to try to get a proper x-ray of me and I keep slouching and falling out of their chair. The exact moment they took the x-ray I sobered up as the police detectives came in. He was an older gentleman with a kind face. And he proceeded to question me about the accident. Me being the little shit I was responded with, “I want to see an attorney”. I must be the dumbest person alive quoting “Law and Order” from an ER room. The detective looked at me and with the kindest most trusting and authentic eyes I have ever seen tells me that he can only help me if I help him and I am honest. I was so torn, I was never that open, authentic, or in touch with what is meant to be in integrity.
Yet I still chose to be in shame and feel guilt for what had happened. And the fear of judgment and punishment had me stuck in my automatic of lying to get out of trouble. I was alerted to the fact my blood was on the driver’s side airbag and my shoe was still next to the brake pedal. It came off when I crashed or scooted myself into the other seat. I was trapped and pain was imminent.
At that moment, as I cried for the third time that I can remember, I made a choice to be real with him. So I confessed. The man I hit was in ICU for 5 days. I broke his ribs, punctured his lungs and put him in a coma for days. I have never reached out to him or his family. I almost killed him. I almost killed a man. I almost killed a brother.
As I write this I will do my first clearing on it.
This is what happened: I chose to drink and drive:
- I hit a person and I almost killed him.
This is the story I made up about what happened:
- I was mad at breaking up with my girlfriend. Got pissed drunk and was so tired from partying for so long that I was more just sleepy. I wasn’t that drunk. My friends do way worse.
These are the payoffs I get from my story about what happened:
- I make bad decisions
- I am an alcoholic
- I am a horrible person
- I almost killed someone and I am a monster
- I have no soul
The prices I am paying for this story are:
- I play the victim role
- I play the not good enough role
- That I am stupid and make bad decisions
- Feeling bad about myself for my past
- I hate myself
The new possibility I see in relationship with myself are:
- Loving myself no matter what I have done
- Trusting myself
- Being authentic
- Being in integrity
I declare that I will shed all past beliefs and stories and love myself for who I am presently today.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.