St. Louis, July 2021 – INSynergy is helping patients addicted to opiates like heroin and fentanyl successfully detox without pain using a drug-free opioid withdrawal device called the Bridge.
“This is such a ray of hope,” said Sue, a former INSynergy patient who sought treatment for her opioid addiction. “The Bridge device is a game changer.”
The painfully cruel side effects of withdrawal are the main reason many don’t break free from their opioid addiction.
“You get so miserable, you don’t want to be like this,” Sue said. “It is hard to get through it.”
Pain, unbearable anxiety, excessive sweating, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the withdrawal symptoms that can last for several days when someone stops using opiates.
“Your body and your nerves are on fire essentially,” Ashley Halker, MHA, INSynergy’s Director of Operations said.
To combat this, INSynergy has effectively pioneered treatment with the FDA-cleared non-surgical device that uses neuromodulation to aid in the reduction of symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.
The Bridge by Masimo, and a similar device called the ST Genesis by Speranza Therapeutics, are both offered to patients when treatment for opioid addiction starts at INSynergy. Both devices reduce the pain of withdrawal in less than 30 minutes of patient use.
“The bridge is a remarkable device that allows patients to transition through the acute phase of withdrawal,” Halker said. “It allows for patients to successfully transition because they are much more comfortable with the transition.”
The small devices are worn behind the ear. Using very small needles to send faint electrical pulses to nerves related to the unpleasant side effects of opiate withdrawal, it allows the patient to detox long enough to move into the full treatment program.
“This provides the patient a comfortable way to get completely detoxified from opiates,” Dr. Arturo Taca, Medical Director of INSynergy said. “Within 60 minutes after applying the device we see an almost 90 percent reduction of the symptoms”.
While the device had been used for pain management in some clinical settings, the medical staff at INSynergy pioneered using the device to help their patients. It is an innovative approach that allowed patients to bridge the gap between using opiates and starting down the road of recovery.
INSynergy was an important participant in the study that persuaded the FDA to clear the devices for opiate withdrawal management.
“Our body is governed by chemicals and electricity. When you use opiates for a long period of time, these signals become dysfunctional,” Dr. Taca said. “What these devices have been able to do is to go into and penetrate those highways and interfere with those signals.”
The Bridge device works by gently sending electrical impulses to areas of the brain and branches of cranial nerves that lead into the spinal cord.
While the science and technology behind the device are revolutionary, it is the impact on the lives of patients that is most remarkable.
Susan’s story is just one example.
Sue found success with recovery at INSynergy after prior attempts failed. The first treatment she received was the Bridge.
“My stomach is in knots, my legs are jittering, I’m sweating,” Sue said about her first appointment with Dr. Taca. “He puts this Bridge device on me and within 20 to 30 minutes, I am not sweating. My legs stopped jittering and I thought… wow!”
The devices, which require a prescription and medical supervision, contain a battery-powered chip and wires that are carefully applied around a patient’s ear.
“It works almost immediately because of electricity,” Dr. Taca said “it goes straight in.”
While the device is huge help in helping a patient detox from opioids, it is not a cure all.
“It’s not that you put this thing on your ear, and you are all healed through hocus pocus,” Sue said. “You still have got to go back in to do the talk therapy.”
“After detox,” Ashley said. “That is when the work really starts.”
That work can include talk therapy, family therapy and the use of anti-craving medications like Vivitrol. The medical team at INSynergy also utilize genetic testing to identify medical conditions that may be contributing to a patient’s addiction.
But the road to recovery from opioid addiction simply can’t start without detoxing. Getting past the formidable roadblock of painful withdrawal is a lot easier when it involves a Bridge.