Lawmakers from the White House to the state house have remarked on the enduring opioid epidemic that's gripping the nation. The answer to ending the crisis is unclear, although a relatively new device claims to ease addicts' suffering.
"The bridge through neuro-stimulatory pathways between the ear and the mid-brain kind of [blunts] the effects of withdrawal."
—Dr. Paul Kolodzik
The device is called the Bridge, a compact device with several electrodes that send pulses to the portion of the brain that controls addiction. The Bridge stops the effects of withdrawal in some cases within minutes. Many addicts recognize the symptoms of withdrawal.
The North Dayton Addiction and Recovery Center is one location using the Bridge. "Get people through withdrawal to the point that they can either manage the addiction on their own or with help of additional medication such as naltrexone or vivitrol," said Medical Director, Dr. Paul Kolodzik.
Dustin, who didn't want to give his last name, is addicted to heroin.
"I've overdosed four times myself," said Dustin, "Twice with Narcan, one time I had a respirator and a catheter in me and I was basically out and last time I just basically woke up on my own."
He used the Bridge to get through the withdrawal. "I felt it instantly. The way I could describe as, it felt like acupuncture in a way," said Dustin.
"Most of the irritability and anxiousness went away. Not hot and cold anymore. I feel like I can handle it for the most part now."
Thomas and Melissa Searles came in to try the Bridge for the first time. The husband and wife duo walked in feeling intense symptoms of withdrawal from heroin.
After using the bridge for 30 minutes they looked and felt much better.
The doctor wanted to stress that this device isn't for everyone and won't work for everyone either. The couple that we featured didn't return for their follow up appointment and didn't get the Vivitrol shot that's recommended. As for Dustin, he followed all the procedures and remains clean and has been now for more than a month.
The Bridge is now being used in 25 states across the country. The FDA is expected to reclassify the device in the next 30 days, so it will be covered by insurance companies.