New Rule Allows Health Providers to Share Information About Overdose With Family

Under a new federal rule, health providers will be allowed to share information about a drug overdose with family members if the patient is in crisis or incapacitated.

The new rule, announced by the Trump Administration, relaxes a federal privacy rule that has prevented health providers from notifying family members about an overdose, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“We know that support from family members and friends is key to helping people struggling with opioid addiction, but their loved ones can’t help if they aren’t informed of the problem,” Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Our clarifying guidance will give medical professionals increased confidence in their ability to cooperate with friends and family members to help save lives.”

The rule was created in the 1970s, when soldiers returning from Vietnam with substance use disorders avoided treatment because they feared they could be arrested for drug use.

Risks for Relapse, Overdose and What You Can Do

Addiction is complex and the journey to recovery often involves setbacks and relapse. Rates of relapse are between 40 and 60 percent, very similar to rates of relapse with other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma or type I diabetes.1 Once your son or daughter has been drug-free for a period of time — whether the result of formal treatment or otherwise — should they relapse, they’re more susceptible to overdose for the simple reason that their tolerance isn’t what it once was. A dose they may have once used regularly can now be fatal.

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