Treating drug addiction remains difficult and costly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse. In the U.S. alone, drug abuse costs more than $600 billion annually, but treatment costs average $4,700 a year versus the annual average $24,000 cost of incarceration. One of the main reasons people addicted to heroin and other opioids leave rehab is to find relief from the pain and severe symptoms of withdrawal, which, according to the American Addictions Centers, take an average of one week to begin to subside and in some cases can continue for months.
Innovative Health Solutions, an Indiana-based company, has developed a neurostimulation product called the Bridge, which is worn behind the ear like a hearing aid. According to the company, wearing the Bridge during the first 5 days of opioid withdrawal reduces the pain significantly. A wire lead from the device sends electrical impulses directly into the brain via electrodes placed near nerve endings in and around the ear. The impulses block the pain signals going into the brain, which, according to the company, can result in pain reduction in as little as 10 minutes.
According to Innovative Health Solutions, the Bridge is FDA-cleared for use in the practice of acupuncture for pain reduction but not yet specifically for the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms. A clinical study sponsored by IHS showed the Bridge significantly reduced symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Select addiction treatment centers in Indiana and Kentucky have used the Bridge with addicts and report success in addicts staying with the program, but more study is needed. Clinics and addiction treatment centers can contact IHS for more information about using the Bridge.