2016 was a record year for the number of Northeast Ohioans who died from opiate overdoses.
And the epidemic shows no sign of stopping.
Addiction recovery specialists, law enforcement and local hospitals recently learned about a new device that may help addicts get into recovery faster.
WKYC Channel 3's Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins met Amy Smith, someone who knows the pain of opiate detox.
"It's the worst thing I've ever been through," she explained. "I don't ever want to go through that again."
Like many, her addiction started from a pain pill prescription. This is now her second time in treatment.
She's thrilled to hear about a new drug free device that uses electronic impulses during detox.
It's called the bridge and it's only worn for five days.
"I think it's an awesome idea," Amy Smith says. "I think it's gonna save a lot of lives because I think that's why a lot of people don't want to get clean. Because they don't want to go through withdrawal. It's that bad."
Treatment providers in 20 states are using it and the company claims it works 9 out of 10 times to help someone get past withdrawal and into treatment.
We can't take much credit after that," explains Ryan Kuhlman from Acclivity Medical. "But we typically see 70 percent success rate of people staying in treatment after they've made it past the detox stage."
There are several Youtube videos showing before and afters of addicts in detox. Minutes after the device is implanted, they get some relief.
The device costs around $700 and is only used once. It's not yet covered by insurance or medicaid.
So is it worth the cost?
"This is a tool to get them solely through the withdrawal so i would compare it to the expense of putting someone in a hospital," says Tom Stuber, CEO of Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (LCADA). "For five or six days at a thousand dollars a day, it makes this look very economical."
The device only alleviates pain. Other symptoms of detox such as vomiting and diarrhea remain.
LCADA's medical staff will be investigating the device further this week. If they approve it, they may begin using it next week.
If it shows success, they'll work on finding funding sources until it gets insurance and medicaid approval.
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