- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - UAB Hospital is adding beds for those struggling with opioid addiction.

The hospital’s Addiction Recovery Program will also add more nurses and technicians to better serve patients in outpatient treatment, Al.com (https://bit.ly/2bQMpXt reported. The increase of beds and staff will help better handle the influx of patients struggling with addiction to opioids and other IV drugs.

The amount of beds will increase by 60 percent from 10 to 16.

Overdose deaths from heroin increased by more than 100 between 2009 and 2014, the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said. Since then, the heroin overdose deaths have dipped but deaths from other drugs such as fentanyl have continued to rise.

Three patients were treated in the emergency room at UAB Hospital in one day last month, said Jordan DeMoss, associate vice president of UAB Hospital.

Last month, President Barack Obama signed a bill to increase access to medication used to treat opioid addiction.

Patients could spend weeks at UAB, said Teri Williams, administrative director or the addiction recovery unit. The increase in capacity should make it easier to help patients looking to recover from physical illness.

“We are trying to be out on the front of helping people,” Williams said. “While they are in the hospital, we can ask if they want help. Would they be interested in suboxone treatment instead of continuing to use IV drugs?”

Williams said the treatment center will offer suboxone and other medication-assisted treatment to reduce cravings for opioid addicts. He said three new beds have already been opened and another three are expected to be opened next month.

“Even a few days can make a big difference whether someone is alive,” she said. “Ideally, people get into treatment on demand.”

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