California Bridge Program

California Bridge is working to ensure that people with substance use disorder receive 24/7 high-quality care in every California health system by 2025. We seek to fully integrate addiction treatment into standard medical practice — increasing access to treatment to save more lives. We are disrupting addiction treatment by approaching substance use disorder as a condition that can, and should, be treated by medical professionals like any other life-threatening medical condition. As a grantee of California’s MAT Expansion Project, we are currently working with 50+ hospitals to make rapid response treatment widely available throughout the state.

Three pillars comprise the core elements that represent the ideal model for providing care to people who use drugs in acute care settings. We encourage all steps toward this ideal and invite ongoing innovation and refinement. Here’s what implementation looks like:

  1. TREATMENT
    • Evidence-based substance use disorder treatment (medication for addiction treatment or “MAT”) is accessible in the emergency department and in all other hospital departments. Hospital systems and policies support MAT and ensure patient access to medications upon discharge. Providers throughout the hospital start MAT and continue it when patients are admitted, get X waivers, and use evidence-based treatment.
    • Treatment is provided rapidly (same day) & efficiently in response to patient needs. Treatment is not contingent on laboratory screening results, insurance status, commitment to treatment, or abstinence from all substances. Providers use a harm reduction approach and put patient needs at the center of the path to treatment.
  2. CULTURE
    • Hospital culture is welcoming and does not stigmatize substance use. The hospital invites people to disclose substance use and request treatment by using tools such as signage, flyers, patient-education pamphlets, videos, etc. The hospital works to reduce the use of language that stigmatizes people who use drugs, treating substance use disorder (SUD) like any other disease.
    • Human interactions that build trust are integral to how substance use disorder treatment is provided. One or more hospital staff has the time and skills to engage with patients on a human level, motivating them to engage in treatment. All hospital staff invite conversations with patients about substance use disorder to increase access to treatment.
  3. CONNECTION
    • Linkage to ongoing care involves active support and follow up with patients. The Hospital has an arrangement with at least one community provider to accept referrals within 72 hours. Staff provides assistance and follow up to help patients successfully access outpatient treatment.
    • Outreach to people who use drugs to increase access to care, equity, & harm reduction. Hospital staff conduct community outreach to build trust, recruit patients, and get input from people who use drugs. Outreach includes partnerships with harm reduction, jails and other programs to reach marginalized, diverse populations with high levels of SUD.

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