Reid Health approves ‘Bridge’ device as part of addiction treatment plans
August 11th 2016
By C.J. JORGENSON for Reid Health
In a step forward for treating addiction Reid Health has approved the use of the Neuro-stim System (NSS) Bridge for a limited pilot program within its practices. The Bridge is a drug-free non-opioid pain management device that can help with the discomfort of opioid and heroin withdrawal.
The small device attaches to a patient’s ear and delivers mild electrical stimulation to key nerve areas in the brain. This electrical stimulation reduces withdrawal pain by up to 75% within 30 minutes according to Innovative Health Solutions the creators of the Bridge device.
Reid Health’s approval of the device makes it the first step in a comprehensive treatment plan designed to help patients overcome addiction by attacking the disease on all fronts according to Lisa Suttle Reid Health Psychiatric Service Line Director by addressing the pain of detox ongoing cravings and the underlying issues contributing to the addiction. Reid Health is among the first healthcare providers to offer this paradigm-shifting therapy she said.
Heroin and opioid addictions are incredible challenges to overcome. Typically the first days of sobriety are the most harrowing for recovering opioid addicts. Most people experience pain anxiety and overwhelming cravings for the drug they’re trying to quit. Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after the last heroin usage according to Medline Plus.
The Bridge a disposable device that works for 5 days helps with this pain and reduces the time a patient is in detox making it more likely that the recovering dependent will progress to medication and psychological therapies.
Bringing the Bridge to Reid Health involved educational seminars followed by hands-on training with the device and finally a course on the device’s mechanism of action. Through these sessions Reid Health practitioners learned how and why the device works and how to quickly apply it to patients in need. Sheila Dunn Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Suttle took the training one step further by having the Bridge placed on themselves.
“Lisa and I actually wore the device overnight to gain an understanding of what it felt like to have it in place” Dunn said. She said having the Bridge placed on her ear felt “like a quick pin prick” less intense than even a small shot. “I quickly forgot that the device was in place…It did not interrupt my sleep at all.” The most notable change she experienced was a lowered healthy heart rate.
Since the device is a medication-free non-opioid pain management system it was safe for them to wear even though they were not experiencing pain symptoms. In fact Suttle said her awareness of wearing the device faded. “I had a meeting later that day with the medical executive committee and I forgot that I was even wearing it.” And for Suttle the effects of the Bridge also fostered a sense of ease. “I know that for me it helped to provide a calmness and I slept better that night.”
She said the calming effect is exactly what it’s supposed to do — to help patients cope with not only the pain but also the anxiety of detox.
Now that the Bridge has been approved by Reid Health officials it becomes a part of a comprehensive approach to helping overcome addiction. After the initial detox phase patients will move on to medication-assisted therapy with a treatment like Vivitrol Suttle said. These two therapies work in tandem to enable a patient to focus on healing the whole self relieved from the pain anxiety and daily demands of an unmanaged addiction.
At this point the likelihood of successful recovery increases and risk of relapse decreases. “Patients are more able to engage more quickly in the therapies that are needed for recovery” Dunn said. Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are common among heroin and opioid addicts.
Suttle said a high percentage of those seeking treatment for addiction have an underlying mental health concern. “It can be the reason they’re using substances to begin with; to help cope with what’s going on.” That’s why it’s essential to provide wraparound services that treat the symptoms of addiction and also address the underlying causes.
Reid Health President/CEO Craig Kinyon said the Bridge is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. “Using new technology alongside addiction counseling helps reduce the barriers towards completing withdrawal and moving into further treatment and recovery. Appropriately called ‘the Bridge’ this device transitions patients through withdrawal and into treatment which is a clearer pathway towards being themselves again” he says. “Our team welcomes the Bridge to bring new hope to managing withdrawal and overcoming addiction.”