Health Recovery Services, a private nonprofit corporation that focuses on helping those affected by mental illness and issues with alcohol, tobacco and drug addiction in Athens, now has a new form of treatment for patients dealing with drug withdrawal.
The Bridge Opiate Detox Device is meant to help reduce the symptoms experienced by those going through opioid withdrawal. The device received FDA approval only a few weeks ago, so only about five patients at recovery services, at 224 Columbus Road, are receiving that treatment as of now, Regina Smith, chief financial officer at Health Recovery Services, said.
“The purpose of the device is to reduce the negative impacts of detoxing of opioids,” Smith said.
The device is attached to a patient's ear and targets key pressure points, Smith said. The pressure points, like acupuncture, are targeted through the use of electrical stimulation.
The Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said that device could be a great tool when it comes to helping people who are going through withdrawal.
Drug withdrawal is a problem that is seen “quite frequently” in Athens County, Rodney said. He said it would be beneficial for people to use and possibly increase the number of people wanting to seek help, especially if they could use the device in the privacy of their own homes.
“Anyway that we can combat addiction and recovery, is a positive for the citizens of Athens County,” Rodney said in an email. “It is our goal to help people through their addiction and help them to become productive members in our community.”
The opiate detox device is set up behind the ear, kind of like a hearing aid. The device is worn by patients during the days where patients have the most negative symptoms of withdrawal.
“It really helps reduce the craving and get them through the feeling of withdrawal,” Leslie Burglie, a nurse practitioner at Health Recovery Services, said.
The device is meant to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal by about 85 percent, Burglie said. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are just a few of the symptoms associated with withdrawal.
Depending on where the device is purchased, it can cost $600 to $900. The device takes planning for the patient to be properly treated. Patients have to be clean from using drugs to get a Vivitrol shot. That shot is meant to block the effects of drugs on a person.
Regina said a patient struggling through withdrawal symptoms cannot get the shot if they use it while going through the three to five day withdrawal period. The devices allow them to get the shot because it allows them to get through the withdrawal period with fewer symptoms.
Regina said that initial responses from patients have been “very, very positive.” Burglie said one of her patients “looked like new person” after using the device for a few days. She said the patient was unable to get through the withdrawal period before, but, after using the device, he was able to successfully make it through.
Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle believes that device could be beneficial for those dealing with drug withdrawal.
“Any kind of treatment is good if it works,” Pyle said. “We are never going to arrest or prosecute our way out of a drug addiction. There has to be treatment.”