New treatment center opens to help combat opioid epidemic

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — A new treatment center has opened in Rhode Island to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo called the epidemic an urgent public health crisis during an appearance at Butler Hospital in Providence Thursday.

The hospital chain Care New England is offering medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the new program. Patients are being seen at Butler and an outpatient facility in North Kingstown, Continuum Behavioral Health at Meadows Edge.

As part of a nationally-recognized action plan, Care New England said the state of Rhode Island established a Center of Excellence (COE) model to provide outpatient treatment for Rhode Islanders suffering from substance use disorder. CNE received a $242,224 grant in June to fund the launch of the COE program.

“We created the Center of Excellence model so that Rhode Islanders can get the help they need to recover from the disease of addiction. I am thankful to Care New England for their continued partnership and support of our mission of recovery,” Raimondo said. 

Republican President Donald Trump recently declared opioid overdoses a public health emergency. That allows the government to redirect resources, but won’t bring new dollars.

In 2016, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported that there were 56 accidental deaths from prescription drugs, 216 from illicit drugs and 66 involving a mixture of both.

“As we continue our work to save lives, I ask our leaders in Washington to put politics aside and devote resources, not rhetoric, to combating this epidemic,” Raimondo said.