Goodman Center: big opioid war battle won

Size comparison, with an adult male hand, of The Bridge and its electrical wires that send out pain-controlling impulses.
Taking the pain out of opioid addiction recovery with The Bridge — doing so on an outpatient basis — The Goodman Center’s new approach is unmatched in Tennessee.

The Bridge is a small device, about the size of a hearing aid, worn on the ear that uses electronic impulses to control pain.

“It works. … This is another example of how an outpatient clinic can be just as effective as an inpatient clinic for certain patients,” said Lewis Frazer III, CEO of The Goodman Center, 116 Concord Road, Suite 100, in Farragut.

“We’ve had about 10 patients use The Bridge device for home detox, then enter our program,” Frazer said. “All of them have been opioid-free.”

In fact, one of the 10 “felt so good she was out shopping.”

“That doesn’t mean they’ve been released from our program,” he added, “Because we’ve only been offering this device for a couple of months.”

The number of days a patient wears The Bridge is five days before the treatment ends, or a second device is implanted. “That depends on what [treatment] drugs you are on,” Frazer said. “The safe answer is anywhere from five to 10 days” wearing The Bridge.

During that five-to-10-day wearing period, “it doesn’t come off,” Frazer said.

The Bridge “looks like a hearing aid. It has four electrical leads” that plug into a battery pack, Frazer said. “It sends these electrical sensations — and it’s amazing.”

It must be installed at a specific location on the ear, he added.

About beating opioid addiction, “If you can do it to where pain is not an obstacle, then you’ve got a much better chance for success,” Frazer said.

“The second biggest challenge they battle is going through pain when they go through opioid withdrawal when they go through detox.”

Cost of The Bridge and the program “is $1,800 total,” Frazer said. “And if you need another device, it’s another $750.”

The Bridge currently is not covered by health insurance. However. that might change soon, Frazer said.

About how TGC discovered this treatment, “We started doing some analysis, and a local psychiatrist suggested that we explore into this for addiction as far as home detox goes,” Frazer said.

Frazer warns many treatment facilities use the opioid addiction treatment drug, Suvoxone. “I’m not a fan of it at all,” he said. “We are strictly non-narcotic — with our treatment plan for you we are not giving you narcotics. We don’t have them on site. I don’t believe in it.

“I think there’s a better, healthier option.”

To monitor success of a given person attempting to beat opioid addiction, “There is a rating system as people are going through opioid withdrawals,” Frazer said about the COWS ratings system on a 0-to-40 scale [0 the best, 40 the worst].

Frazer said at the point his patients have The Bridge installed “they’re usually running 20 to 30 on this COWS rating — they’re very high.

“Once we install the device, patients stay in the office another hour or so. And every few minutes we actually go in and access their rating scale,” he added. “If someone comes in with a 20 or 24 COWS rating, by the time they leave our clinic it will be down to 2 or even less.”

Positive effects on heart also were noted.

“We had one gentleman with a pulse rate of 110 when he checked in. Within 10 minutes, his was down to 50,” Frazer said.

With The Bridge, “They now have an option, in the right family setting — but you’re going to have to have good family support to pull this off,” he said. “This is a home detox plan that we have developed.

“Instead of having to check in [as an] inpatient, you can keep you day job. You can come to our office, have this device installed and we will monitor you daily and you can detox from opioids at home,” Frazer added.

“And then your last appointment with us, we will remove

the device and actually start

you on a treatment plan, and

that would include a shot of

Vivitrol.

“We check on these patients every day.”

However, “Just because they’re pain-free doesn’t mean detox is easy,” Frazer said. “It’s still going to be a hard journey. … You’re still going to go through withdrawal.

“From there you can get treatment into our program,” he added. “We have a medical doctor that will look at your medical condition, we have nurse practitioners that will evaluate the medicines you’re on. And we have counselors in helping you beat addiction.

“It’s going to be a 6- to 9-month-process.”

Frazer didn’t rule out possible side effects of using The Bridge. During one patient’s testimony, “He said he had one side effect, and that was he was sleepy,” Frazer said. “I think it was more sleepiness at night.”

For help with the program, call 865-888-4100.

For more information, visit www.goodmancenter.com