Last Wednesday, the city of Philadelphia launched Access Point; a 24-hour treatment center meant to provide an immediate response to addicted persons in crisis, who often slip through the cracks when it comes to treatment access.

Why Treatment Access Matters

Many people who overdose are ready to go to treatment at the time of their emergency but are instead put on a wait list because there isn’t enough help available for people with substance abuse disorders. Securing a treatment bed requires screening, interviews, and long wait times.

Not everyone who needs quick access to drug treatment has overdosed; some have simply hit bottom and decided they’ve had enough. But when it’s time to detox, they may end up stuck in a waiting room for hours while they wait to be seen and then transported elsewhere.

When an addicted person is ready to detox, access is essential. That’s where the idea of Access Point came into play; Philadelphia wants to offer immediate help to people who are ready to seek it.

What Does Access Point Do?

Access Point has served 306 people who were addicted to opioids since its “soft opening” in April. Last Wednesday, the center was able to expand access. Now people who are addicted to other drugs such as benzodiazepines, cocaine, and alcohol can be admitted as well.

The center doesn’t provide longer-term treatment and patients can only stay for 24 hours.

Instead, it offers people with substance use disorders the time to “stabilize” and create a plan going forward. They can learn about longer-term treatment options and go through some of the worst withdrawal in the care of knowledgeable, supportive staff.

Access Point can also provide immediate access to medication-assisted services, which can be lifesaving for many clients. These medications can help lessen withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Other drugs can also block the effects of opioids in the body, making it impossible to experience a high.