DENVER — Christine Matulionis says she started drinking at age 62 after her husband died of ALS, and she couldn’t stop.
“This addiction just grabbed a hold of my soul and just consumed me,” Matulionis said.
In six years, she went to the hospital multiple times, where she was stabilized and released. Then, doctors suggested Kaiser Permanente’s Rapid Start Clinic.
“It’s a wonderful, immediate program. You want help, you will get it right now,” Matulionis said.
Dr. Joseph P. Cannavo, the chief of addiction treatment services at Kaiser Permanente, says the program is unprecedented. He says it can take weeks to get into other treatment programs, but at Rapid Start, it is generally within 48 hours.
“The beauty of our program is that we are able to strike right during those periods of motivation, and that’s really a very exciting, and a very, very powerful thing,” Cannavo said.
Sometimes, patients can avoid the emergency room altogether. They can stabilize at the clinic, then start drug or alcohol treatment.
Each person is treated by a team, including doctors, nurses and counselors. However, the process is streamlined, so the patients don’t carry the burden of scheduling with multiple providers.
The program started in 2016 and since then, about 8,000 patients have been treated.