New laws tackling opioid epidemic take effect

Opioid Crisis

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s October which means that now some new opioid laws are in effect.

“We see new patients who are looking for treatment every single week,” said Dr. Doug Olson, VP Clinical Affairs.

Dr. Doug Olson is on the front lines at the Fair Haven Community Health Center. They have about 100 patients who deal with opioid addictions. He says the new laws don’t effect them, because they already practice them.

When they prescribe opiates, they already create treatment agreements with patients. Olson says that’s not true everywhere.

“There are other places that aren’t doing this on the day to day and I think that’s what the law was intended to do. To sort of legislate the fact that shared decision making and treatment planning, we know there’s evidence behind it to improve outcomes for folks with chronic pain,” said Olson.

Another new law that starts in January mandates a mental health screening for every overdose patient at emergency rooms. Those screenings will look for…

“Was it simply just an accidental overdose or was there something like PTSD or depression, or maybe a mental health disorder that underlies that overdose,” said Olson.

Olson says these laws are a step in the right direction but wonders what happens after those mental health screenings.

“If they screen positive can we have the resources to connect them to treatment and the next thing is ‘are patients going to engage in this treatment,” said Olson.

Another new law makes sure pharmacies consult with all patients when they are dispensing the drugs.

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