Emergency Department Hallway

Despite an opioid crisis, most ERs don’t offer addiction treatment. California is changing that.

SACRAMENTO, California — When Michael Curci still used opioid painkillers and heroin, he didn’t see himself living beyond his mid-20s.

“I didn’t even think I was going to make it,” Curci told me, while at the El Dorado County clinic where he receives treatment for opioid addiction. “I didn’t think I was going to have any type of future.”

Curci is now 28. The moment that helped him survive came in October 2017, when he went to an emergency room not due to an overdose or an injection-related infection but to seek treatment for addiction. Unlike most hospitals in the US, Marshall Medical Center, an hour’s drive east of Sacramento, provided him with real treatment — particularly, buprenorphine, a highly effective medication that treats opioid addiction by mitigating withdrawal and cravings for the drugs.

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