Denver hospitals are now treating opioid addiction as an emergency.

Those seeking help at an emergency room for withdrawal or overdose used to get referred to outside treatment. Now, they can receive medication to help with their addiction immediately, the Colorado Sun reports.

Since 2018, some hospitals affiliated with Denver Health, SCL Health, Centura Health and UCHealth have treated hundreds using drugs like Suboxone to block receptors activated by opioids.

“The difference that this makes for the clinician is huge because you feel empowered to treat this patient," Dr. Scott Simpson, a psychiatric emergency medicine doctor at Denver Health, told the Sun. "The difference this makes for the patient is literally lifesaving.”

There were 974 drug overdoses in Colorado in 2018, which was the first decrease in deaths since 2012.

“We’re going to treat addiction like every other disease,” Dr. Josh Blum, a Denver Health addiction specialist, told the Sun. “That’s the fundamental concept of the Center for Addiction Medicine: no wrong door.”

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